Premier League champions Liverpool return to action; IRFU and players stalemate continues

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Manchester City host Premier League, European and World champions Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium tonight. Photograph: Getty Images

Manchester City host Premier League, European and World champions Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium tonight. Photograph: Getty Images

Andriy Yarmolenko’s last-gasp strike secured relegation-threatened West Ham a vital 3-2 Premier League win over Chelsea last night. The Hammers are now three points clear of the relegation zone, while Chelsea missed the chance to leapfrog Leicester into third place. Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester side were beaten 2-1 by Everton at Goodison Park, Newcastle were 4-1 winners over Bournemouth and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored two in Arsenal’s 4-0 victory over Norwich. Tonight Liverpool play their first match as Premier League champions as Manchester City host them at the Etihad Stadium at 8.15pm, and the European and world champions are taking inspiration from the All Blacks as they aim to finish the season off in style. City’s Catalan manager Pep Guardiola has also confirmed his team will give Liverpool a guard of honour as they eneter the pitch tonight. Back here in Ireland and the FAI board will meet again this evening to consider the basis on which it was announced on Tuesday that the Airtricity League was to return. Emmet Malone has all the latest on those talks here.

Round four of salary talks between the IRFU and Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) has ended without an agreement. “Both parties are still working towards a solution,” read a joint statement on Wednesday. If a stalemate remains come the end of this month the current pay deferral scheme, ranging from 10 to 50 per cent of current salaries, with the highest earners taking the biggest cuts, would have to remain in place. The English Rugby Football Union changed its ticketing policy to reserve the first 28,000 for corporate contracts, meaning that unless the UK government allows for crowds of nearly 30,000 or more in the autumn, they will not be able to sell match tickets to supporters. A major blow for fans hoping to attend this year’s autumn internationals.

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