OptiNews - Friday 23 to Thursday 29 March 2018

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Optimus trousers posted this 4 weeks ago

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@ChelseaFC - Chelsea FC

📆 Our Premier League match against Burnley will now take place on Thursday 19 April...

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Optimus trousers posted this 4 weeks ago

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@SouthamptonFC - Southampton FC

We're wishing a very happy birthday to a #SaintsFC legend! 😇

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Optimus trousers posted this 4 weeks ago

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@SouthamptonFC - Southampton FC

🇲🇦 @sosoboufal19
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🦁 Vokins
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Read up on the 6️⃣ #SaintsFC player… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/977138223037210627

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Optimus trousers posted this 4 weeks ago

Sourced from Daily Echo article

Saints fan groups criticise The FA over ticket prices

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SAINTS fan groups have criticised the Football Association for hiking ticket prices to their highest ever levels for the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley next month.

The groups join supporters’ trusts from fellow semi-finalists Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United in complaining over the cost of a seat at the last four clashes, which take place on the weekend of April 21-22.

The FA have kept the cheapest tickets at £30, but have increased the price on all others, including the most expensive Category A seats, which now cost £80, up £20 from last year.

Category B tickets are priced at £65 having been £50 in 2017, while Category C seats are £5 more expensive at £45 a go.

Saints fanzine, The Ugly Inside, have ‘joined forces’ with fellow groups and published this joint statement.

“The decision to raise prices for the FA Cup semi-finals and finals to the highest levels ever defies belief,” it reads.

“The FA has secured record broadcast rights for the competition, there is a lucrative sponsorship deal in place, and attendances throughout the competition have been higher than in recent years.

“The FA itself is in better financial health than ever. So we cannot see the rationale for hiking prices.

“The FA could have tried to explain the reasoning to fans, but once again the people who are the lifeblood of the game, the paying customers, were not consulted or even given advance notice. Like it or lump it is the clear message.

“Supporters of all four clubs have already spent a fortune following their teams from round three onwards.

“Our reward for reaching the last four is price rises 10x the rate of inflation. The FA has taken this decision at a time when, by contrast, the Premier League has reduced the cost of away tickets to a maximum of £30.

“Freezing the lowest ticket price category is a token gesture that will benefit only a small minority of supporters.

“These price increases further illustrate the longstanding issue we have with the FA as both the regulator of the game as well as the worst offender when it comes to excessive ticket prices for fans. A concession discount of just £10 further compounds the issue.

“The price of football at the top level is already extortionate. This latest decision is nothing more than opportunistic exploitation of fan loyalty.

“We expect better from a body that claims to be the guardian of the game, especially in the oldest and most famous cup competition in world football.

“We wonder, too, how the FA’s commercial partners feel about being associated with such naked opportunism.

“The FA still has time to rethink. It should."

The statement was jointly written by the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters' Trust, Manchester United Supporters' Trust, Chelsea Supporters' Trust and Southampton fan groups.

Andy Ambler, The FA’s director of professional game relations, explained the association’s decision to rise prices.

“The cheapest tickets for these matches will remain the same as in 2016 and 2017, £30 for the semi-finals and £45 for the Final,” he said.

“This season we made the decision to increase the price of some tickets in the stadium. This is the first time that we have raised the price of tickets for Emirates FA Cup semi-final and Final ties in three years.

“The Emirates FA Cup semi-final and Final are some of the most prestigious events in the sporting calendar and these new prices are in line with many of these events. “It’s always important to remember that The FA is a not-for-profit organisation where every pound and penny of profit is reinvested back into every level of football in England.

“If you’re buying a ticket for the semi-final or the Final you are directly investing in the future of the game in this country.”

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Optimus trousers posted this 4 weeks ago

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Summary of non-mainstream articles: 23/03/2018 12:49:25

Club-record deal for winger eyed, Lazio eye Saints striker and more: Southampton news round-up READSOUTHAMPTON

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Optimus trousers posted this 4 weeks ago

Sourced from Reuters.co.uk article

Hughes arrival has boosted Southampton, says Austin

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(Reuters) - The arrival of Mark Hughes as manager at Southampton has had an immediate impact on the team’s attitude, striker Charlie Austin has said.

Hughes, who replaced Mauricio Pellegrino earlier this month, got off to a winning start in a 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup quarter-finals last Sunday.

However, the Welshman’s main target is to keep the side in the Premier League, where they lie 18th, two points adrift of safety, with eight games left to play.

“When the gaffer came in he said, ‘Look, we’re here for eight weeks. There’s no getting away from it, we’ve all got to put all our energies and efforts into these eight weeks to get ourselves into a cup final and stay in the Premier League,’” Austin told the Southampton website southamptonfc.com.

“Everyone knows that is the ultimate goal for us now. There has been a change in everyone around the training ground – a change in attitude. Commitment maybe? I don’t know.

“Sometimes you need that change. What they’ve brought so far has been fantastic, and hopefully that will continue.”

Southampton can climb out of the relegation zone if they beat West Ham United, who sit two points above them in 17th, on March 31 but they will have to improve on a dire away record that has brought just two wins in 14 league games on the road this season.

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Optimus trousers posted this 4 weeks ago

Sourced from Southampton FC - Official Site article

St Mary's Football Group – 2016/17 financial results

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The directors are pleased to report another period of strong financial performance across a number of areas of the business.

Turnover improved significantly once more, to a record £182.3m (2016: £124.3m), with commercial and matchday turnover both showing positive increases, to a combined £37.9m (2016: £31.3m).

Overall, the group achieved profit for the year, after taxation, of £34.1m (2016: £4.9m), while net assets increased to £79.1m (2016: £45.0m), and net debt decreased from £38.9m in 2016 to net cash of £2.9m in 2017.

The club’s position was helped by the 2016/17 season being the first of the new Premier League television rights deal, with the club also having three more live games than in the previous campaign.

Additionally, participation in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League and the team’s run to the EFL Cup final helped drive an increase in turnover.

Elsewhere, new sponsorship agreements, notably with Under Armour and Virgin Media, contributed to a 27 per cent increase in commercial turnover.

The group’s strategy has continued to be to strengthen the first-team playing squad in order to compete in multiple competitions, while simultaneously strengthening the overall operation of the club.

Significant investment has continued to be made in recruiting players and strengthening contracts, with the average length of a first-team squad player deal standing at 38 months in 2017 compared to 35 months in 2016, while intangible fixed assets have increased from £84.9m to £97.3m as a result of this.

Encouragingly, the group has, at the same time, been able to improve its wages-to-turnover ratio from 68 per cent in 2016 to 62 per cent in 2017, despite player remuneration growing by 29 per cent (£67.2m in 2016, to £86.6m in 2017).

The number of players with international recognition at senior or under-21 level increased from 23 to 26, while 17 players represented their country at youth level in 2016/17, compared to 12 during 2015/16.

The club’s Academy talent pool continues to grow and strengthen, with an average of 29 players on scholarship agreements in 2016/17, compared to 20 the season before, while ten graduates represented the first-team in the 2016/17 campaign.

Toby Steele, Managing Director, commented:

“We are pleased with the group’s performance in the year, which underlines the club’s financial growth and stability.

“While the record revenues are largely driven by new broadcasting deals, it is encouraging to once again see improvement in our commercial and matchday revenues, which are important for us to grow in order to strengthen our competitiveness on the pitch.

“We have again invested heavily in the first-team, and have continued to do so in the period beyond these results, while doing likewise in our Academy and our staff, to ensure that we remain well-positioned for the future.

“The performance of the team always remains our ultimate focus, and through continuing to strengthen our financial position we give ourselves the best opportunity of driving improvement on the pitch.”

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Optimus trousers posted this 4 weeks ago

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@SouthamptonFC - Southampton FC


Check out best images from Thursday's training at Staplewood, as #SaintsFC continued their work towards #WHUFC:… https://twitter.com/i/web/status/977169341488627712

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Sourced from Daily Echo article

Great Solent Gin Festival makes debut at Common People

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COMMON People Festival organisers have announced The Great Solent Gin Festival will come to Southampton in May.

A brand new gin experience for Southampton it will be set within its own garden space at Common People this coming spring bank holiday, May 26- 27, on Southampton Common.

Curator Rob da Bank said: “I have a confession to make. I love gin… and it's no secret that many of us are a bit partial to a tot of Mother’s Ruin of an evening, afternoon or sometimes even morning! This year Common People is really blossoming as a festival into a proper family-friendly music, food and culture fest and we’re very proud to add The Great Solent Gin Festival to that offering.

“We’ve had the onerous task of hand picking and tasting over 50 gins and have come up with an incredible array from UK home-grown flavours like Bathtub, Conker and Bulldog to American high-spirited gin, Aviation, and the amazing Malfy from Italy, and some cracking local gins. All this writing has got me a bit thirsty so I’m off to sample some more while you buy yourself a ticket and gin flight. What are you waiting for?!”

Presenting more than 50 gins, The Great Solent Gin Festival will feature a tempting collection of flavour profiles from citrus and herbaceous to fruity and floral, featuring delicious homegrown botanicals, global favourites and the finest selection of local handcrafted gins from the Isle of Wight Distillery and the Winchester Distillery.

Occupying its own special area within Common People, featuring a luxuriantly dressed traditional pole tent with ample seating and dedicated garden area, for just £45 for a day ticket, gin festival attendees will receive a gin flight of three expertly matched gin & tonics and full access to Common People festival including three stages of music, a new and improved kids garden, and a host of attractions.

The Great Solent Gin Festival will also feature masterclasses including a World Gin Day tasting with World Gin Day ambassador Emma Stokes aka Gin Monkey, a discussion and gin tasting with Xavier Baker from the Isle of Wight Distillery, and a gin tasting experience with Winchester Distillery, giving you the fantastic opportunity to learn the history of the UK’s favourite tipple from the real experts.

Plus, there will be an artisan food market featuring the most flavoursome locally sourced goods and entertainment from the Saints Brass and Rob da Bank, all located within the gin festival’s own garden setting.

As previously announced, the “First Family of Soul” The Jacksons are headlining this year. The iconic Motown act will close out the festival’s Disco Day on Sunday May 27, while Lily Allen and James will headline the Common stage on Saturday, May 26.

Rounding out the ‘singalong Saturday special’ are sets from All Saints, The Sherlocks, Jaguar Skills, The Cuban Brothers, Elvana: Elvis Fronted Nirvana and Plastic Mermaids.

And on Sunday revellers can bask in the dazzling reflection of the world’s largest disco ball and dance to sets from The New Power Generation, Sparks, Boney M, Snap!, FooR, Jungle Brothers and Hak Baker.

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