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Sports centre’s ready to rumble as license granted to stage boxing and wrestling

THE Richard Dunn Leisure Centre is now ready to rumble after a change in its license means boxing and wrestling matches can be held there.

And the first event under the new licence has just been announced – a major British wrestling event next month.

Bradford Council applied to alter the licence last summer to allow the sports to be held at the centre in Odsal, saying there had been interest from several promoters about staging events.

Although Richard Dunn is earmarked for future demolition under a major shake up of the district’s leisure facilities, that is not expected to happen until its replacement is built on nearby Sedbergh Playing Fields site which is still likely to be several years away.

BWE – British Wrestling Entertainment – will hold the first event at the centre under the new licence.

On Saturday, November 25, it will bring its Unstoppable event to Bradford – the first time the Leeds-based company has come to the city.

It will follow the format of the company’s Reloaded show which will be held in Halifax on Saturday, October 14.

BWE has other events planned for 2018, and hopes that the Bradford shows could even lead to the company having its shows televised. November’s show will be recorded by students on the media course at the University of Bradford.

Stars of the company who could appear at the event include Liam Slater, Ace Matthews, The Sexy Gents, seven foot tall Big T, the Lion Kings and Rampage, as well as female grapplers Xia Brookside, daughter of English wrestling legend Robbie Brookside, and Little Miss Roxxy.

Promoter Tony Warnes, who is also a mature media student at the University of Bradford, told the Telegraph & Argus the group had been hoping to run shows in the centre for a long time.

He added: “We have other events planned for March and May, and hopefully every six to eight weeks after that.

“It is a great venue for wrestling, it is the largest public leisure space in the city, but Bradford is one of the biggest cities without regular wrestling shows.

“It is a great location in terms of logistics. It is a shame there are plans to knock it down, because it has a potential to be one of the best venues in West Yorkshire. We’re going to make use of it while we can.

“We run family-friendly shows, events like this are a lot more interactive and social than going to the cinema.

“We are working with the university to live stream this show – students will be there with the live broadcast truck. It will help with their degrees and give them some great experience.”

Although the full line-up has yet to be announced, Mr Warnes said there would be a mix of singles, tag team and women’s wrestling.

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Sports centre’s ready to rumble as licence granted to stage boxing and wrestling

THE Richard Dunn Leisure Centre is now ready to rumble after a change in its licence means boxing and wrestling matches can be held there.

And the first event under the new licence has just been announced – a major British wrestling event next month.

Bradford Council applied to alter the licence last summer to allow the sports to be held at the centre in Odsal, saying there had been interest from several promoters about staging events.

Although Richard Dunn is earmarked for future demolition under a major shake up of the district’s leisure facilities, that is not expected to happen until its replacement is built on nearby Sedbergh Playing Fields site which is still likely to be several years away.

BWE – British Wrestling Entertainment – will hold the first event at the centre under the new licence.

On Saturday, November 25, it will bring its Unstoppable event to Bradford – the first time the Leeds-based company has come to the city.

It will follow the format of the company’s Reloaded show which will be held in Halifax on Saturday, October 14.

BWE has other events planned for 2018, and hopes that the Bradford shows could even lead to the company having its shows televised. November’s show will be recorded by students on the media course at the University of Bradford.

Stars of the company who could appear at the event include Liam Slater, Ace Matthews, The Sexy Gents, seven foot tall Big T, the Lion Kings and Rampage, as well as female grapplers Xia Brookside, daughter of English wrestling legend Robbie Brookside, and Little Miss Roxxy.

Promoter Tony Warnes, who is also a mature media student at the University of Bradford, told the Telegraph & Argus the group had been hoping to run shows in the centre for a long time.

He added: “We have other events planned for March and May, and hopefully every six to eight weeks after that.

“It is a great venue for wrestling, it is the largest public leisure space in the city, but Bradford is one of the biggest cities without regular wrestling shows.

“It is a great location in terms of logistics. It is a shame there are plans to knock it down, because it has a potential to be one of the best venues in West Yorkshire. We’re going to make use of it while we can.

“We run family-friendly shows, events like this are a lot more interactive and social than going to the cinema.

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“We are working with the university to live stream this show – students will be there with the live broadcast truck. It will help with their degrees and give them some great experience.”

Although the full line-up has yet to be announced, Mr Warnes said there would be a mix of singles, tag team and women’s wrestling.

Sports fans urged to attend Bradford Park Avenue’s Diversity Day match

FANS have been urged to show their support for people of all ethnicities by attending a football match on Saturday, October 7.

Bradford Park Avenue’s home clash against Kidderminster Harriers has been chosen as the hosts’ annual diversity day match.

The National League North game (kick-off 3pm) also coincides with the National League Day, in aid of prostrate cancer, and Park Avenue’s campaign with Kick it Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, and Sport Campaign Against Racism (SCAR).

With no games in the Premier League or Championship, due to the international fixtures, Park Avenue has offered all season ticket holders of sports clubs the chance to attend the game for £5.

Gates open at 1pm at Horsfall Stadium. Pre-match entertainment will include a schools’ under 11 penalty shoot-out and stalls.

Sports club fined just £140 after postman suffers horrific injuries from insecure barrier

A SPORTS club has been fined for breaching health and safety regulations after a postman suffered serious injuries when his vehicle was impaled by an insecure car park barrier.

Royal Mail worker Mark Nykoniw had been delivering post at Silsden Sports Club in August last year when the insecure barrier went through the windscreen of his van as he was driving out of the premises.

A judge at Bradford Crown Court was today shown photographs of the aftermath of the incident which led to Mr Nykoniw being kept in Leeds General Infirmary for four days.

Prosecutor Giles Bridge said Mr Nykoniw suffered a broken jaw which had to have a plate fitted and part of his right cheek had to be re-attached.

The court heard that Mr Nykoniw’s right ear was detached at the lobe and some glass fragments were embedded into his face.

Mr Nykoniw also suffered some nerve loss to his lower lip and parts of his head, but Mr Bridge confirmed that he had able to return to work.

It is understood that a civil case relating to Mr Nykoniw’s injuries is on-going, but today the sports club, which is a valuable community facility run by volunteers, was sentenced for failing to ensure there was a safe entrance and exit from the premises.

The court heard that on the morning of the incident a member of the club had not secured the barrier to its latch after opening it and Judge Colin Burn was told that the failure had been an isolated occurrence.

Barrister Nigel Lawrence QC, for the club, submitted it was an unusual case involving a “one-off individual failure” by a single person which had resulted in the prosecution.

He said the club was very sorry about the injuries caused to the driver and extended their apologies to him.

Mr Lawrence explained that the club was a “not-for-profit organisation” with very limited finances and he asked Judge Burn to consider imposing a discharge instead of a fine.

The court heard that since the incident a notice about locking the barrier in position had been put on the gate and a metal column had been welded to the barrier to stop it penetrating the windscreen of any other vehicle.

The club had admitted breaching its duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and after considering the legal submissions and sentencing guidelines Judge Burn fined the club £140 for the offence.

Judge Burn said it was clear that on all other occasions the barrier had been secured and it was not a case involving an unsafe system.

He said it had been an isolated incident and the club’s culpability fell into the low category.

“It seems to me that a fine in those circumstances is unavoidable as a disposal in this case,” he concluded.

The judge had been asked to order investigation and legal costs totalling about £4,000, but after hearing about the club’s financial position he decided to make it pay only £146 costs with a victim surcharge of £14.

“This a not-for-profit club which is an essential part of the fabric of the community in which it operates, run by volunteers for people of all ages,” he pointed out.

Sports club forced out of business by Council in bitter wrangle over unfinished rugby league complex

BRADFORD Council has forced a sports club into liquidation for failing to repay a £10,000 grant for a rugby pitch which has still to materialise.

Queensbury Sports and Social Club Limited (QSSC) was wound up yesterday at a County Court hearing.

The Council said it was due to QSSC’s failure to pay back a Ward Investment Fund grant which it was required to return after it had not met the terms of funding agreement.

The cash was granted back in 2009 to create a pitch which would have formed part of a wider £700,000-plus amateur rugby league facility at Albert Road Recreation Ground in Queensbury.

But after yesterday’s court action, QSSC told the Telegraph & Argus that it did not receive the funding, which it said had been paid to Queensbury ARLFC ,and likened the Council’s move to “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Construction work on the ambitious project to provide changing rooms, a club room and pitches for amateur rugby league started in 2009.

The facility was 17 years in the planning and received substantial funding from both Sport England and the Council.

But in 2011, work on the clubhouse ground to a halt after money ran out.

At the time, the Council, which had contributed £160,000 towards the scheme, said the clubhouse had proved more expensive than planned and the funds had been used to pay for groundworks, foundations and the construction of the building to that point.

On top of that, work on the pitch had not begun and the Council said it was due to have further discussions with the rugby club to find a way forward.

Later in 2011, Michael Walls, then a Conservative councillor for Queensbury, looked into setting up a new community group to oversee the building as no work had been carried out on the site for around a year.

Work reportedly subsequently began on the training pitch, but in 2014 Bradford Council pursued QSSC for the £10,000 as it had not been completed.

Earlier this year, QSSC wrote to Sport England and the Council asking if they would be willing to work with the club to move Phase 2 of the clubhouse forward.

The club said it had also given consideration to handing the building back, but asked the Council to set out detailed proposals for its completion, with a usage strategy for Queensbury rugby.

After it received no response, another letter was sent to the Council which stated the club felt the best option was for the building to be handed back and again asked for proposals for its completion, along with a usage strategy for rugby.

The letter outlined the club had invested a “substantial” amount of funds into the project and it would be irresponsible to hand it back without knowledge of its future use.

A reply from the Council said the content had been noted, but said the club was contracted to build a clubhouse and facilities on the site in line with an award of grant letter signed in May 2008 and a lease agreement for Albert Road Recreation Ground signed in October 2008.

It added the required outcomes and terms and conditions were still applicable and the works still required completion. The club was asked to confirm its intentions to bring the clubhouse and playing pitches into use, as well as a full financial package and proposed timeline for the completion.

After yesterday’s county proceedings, the Council spokesman said: “Bradford Council remains committed to working with the local community to examine all options to deliver a sustainable facility for the people of Queensbury.

“Given the significant level of investment still required we will engage with all stakeholders to ensure we can create an affordable and practical solution that meets the needs of the community.

“One of our key priorities is to include playing provision for Queensbury ARLFC, enabling rugby league to return to the site.”

A QSSC spokesman responded: “Due to an administrative error representatives of both QSSC and Queensbury ARLFC failed to attend the initial County Court hearing.

“The outcome of the hearing was an inevitable fact of a due legal process that Bradford Council was able to pursue with unlimited financial resources against a voluntary organisation QSSC that had nothing. We will of course assist the official receiver in their duties.

“We remain very sceptical of Bradford Council’s commitment to this project as they and other stakeholders have constantly refused to enter into any formal dialogue to progress the project.

“This is a typical example of a David versus Goliath struggle using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. We hope that Bradford Council stands by its promises to deliver the scheme for the people of Queensbury.”

Councillor Paul Cromie, (Ind, Queensbury) said the Council, along with elected members, would now be looking for funding to finish the project.

A spokesman for Sport England said it would continue to work with the Council with the aim of providing a sustainable facility to meet the needs of the community.”

But Councillor Andrew Senior (Con, Queensbury) described the situation as an “unmitigated disaster”.

He said: “It should not have taken years to reach what I still consider to be a needlessly confrontational outcome between the club and the Council.

“Various stakeholders in the project are to varying extents responsible for this situation and it should have been possible to resolve the problem amicably a long time ago.

“I just hope that winding this company up will not delay the project further due to receivers carrying out their work.

“The people of Queensbury have missed out on sporting facilities through no fault of their own and I am hopeful that a clear picture of what the future holds for the site will emerge in the very near future.”

“I will now get my teeth into pushing things forward so that the people of Queensbury will finally receive some positive news about getting some sports provision.”

MPs declare sports and bookies as most common donors

House of Commons in sessionImage copyright PA
Image caption MPs have declared about £215,000 worth of gifts, benefits and hospitality

Sports and betting companies top the list of donors treating MPs to gifts and hospitality.

The Ladbrokes Coral group appeared 15 times in the register of members’ interests, more than any other donor.

Out of 187 donations from UK sources registered by MPs, 58 were from the world of sport. A further 19 were from betting companies.

Ladbrokes Coral said it wanted MPs to take decisions “from a position of knowledge”.

But campaigners for tighter rules on gambling said companies could use hospitality to lobby MPs not to change rules on fixed odds betting terminals.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption MPs declared hospitality from Ladbrokes including tickets to Cheltenham Races

MPs are required to declare any gifts, benefits and hospitality over a value of £300. The latest register was published on 29 August and most declarations date from the beginning of 2016 to July 2017.

The Ladbrokes Coral Group accounted for 15 entries including trips to Ascot, Doncaster and Cheltenham races, the Community Shield at Wembley and dinner at the Conservative Party conference.

Altogether, the group of companies donated £7,475-worth of hospitality to four MPs, Conservatives Philip Davies, Laurence Robertson and Thérèse Coffey and Labour’s Conor McGinn.

The total does not include any gifts or hospitality worth less than £300 as MPs do not have to declare this.

ITV appeared eight times and Channel 4 was mentioned five times. BBC Northern Ireland appears once.

While Ladbrokes Coral appeared most often it was not the biggest donor in terms of the value of its hospitality.

The largest individual donor in the section on “gifts, benefits and hospitality from UK sources” was the Road Haulage Association, which the register revealed funds a researcher in the office of Dover’s Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke at a cost of £22,577.

Mr Elphicke said: “The researcher is looking at how we can be ready on day one for Brexit – particularly at the Dover front line.

“This is vital work for both my constituency and the haulage industry. No-one wants to see long queues of lorries at Dover.

“In this work the interests of the haulage industry and my constituency are strongly aligned. That’s why we decided to join forces.”

‘Wine and dine’

Matt Zarb-Cousin, spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, accused Ladbrokes Coral of being “desperate” to keep fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) at £100 a spin.

He said: “They will throw as much money as they can. It shows a lot about the strength of their argument that they need to wine and dine MPs.”

The organisation wants to see the maximum stake on the terminals cut from £100 to £2 amid concerns vulnerable people can lose a lot of money very quickly.

Its founder Derek Webb has funded the Liberal Democrats and also appeared in previous registers of members’ interests as a donor to Labour deputy leader Tom Watson.

The government is conducting a review into FOBTs.

A spokesman for Ladbrokes Coral said: “We employ over 25,000 people, we have a high street presence in nearly every constituency in the land and pay UK taxes of circa £55m per annum.

“Of course we engage with politicians, we want to make sure that when decisions are taken that affect our 25,000 people, they are done from a position of knowledge.”

‘Poorly funded’

Mr Davies, MP for Shipley and one of the recipients of Ladbrokes’ hospitality, said: “I am the elected chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Betting and Gaming – and a former bookmaker – so of course I meet with bookmakers.

“It would be rather extraordinary if I didn’t.”

Tewkesbury MP Mr Robertson said he did discuss FOBTs with Ladbrokes, but also other issues such as taxation and their relationship with horse racing.

He said: “Very many companies (including the BBC) provide hospitality as a means of lobbying MPs pretty well every day of the week, inside and outside the Palace of Westminster, at various sporting and other events, at party conferences and so on.

“Charities do similar. Some of it is declarable, if it is over the threshold, and some of it isn’t.

“I represent the Cheltenham racecourse and am also joint chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Racing and Bloodstock, so have responsibilities in this area.

“Similar to most countries in the world, UK horse racing is very largely financially supported by bookmakers and there is a fear that curtailing their income by reducing the stakes on FOBTs could cause many shops to close which would, in turn, lead to a dramatic reduction in the funding of horse racing, which, contrary to popular belief, is a very poorly funded sport in the first place.”

Dr Coffey and Mr McGinn have been approached for comment.

Sports club back in action after vandal attack

A BRADFORD rugby club’s main pitch is back in action after vandals damaged goalposts beyond repair earlier this summer.

The posts at Wibsey Rugby Club were left leaning over and cracked at the base by people swinging on them, making the pitch in Northfield Road unsafe for play.

Teams were forced to travel to a pitch in Beldon Road for their home games, but now, thanks to an online crowdfunding appeal, new posts have been put up and the pitch is ready for the rugby union side’s first home match of the season tomorrow.

The club operates 13 junior, open age, and girls’ rugby league and rugby union teams, and was facing a logistical nightmare by only having one pitch available.

The crowdfunding appeal aimed to raise £1,500 for new posts, and managed to raise £921.

Steve Brooke, Wibsey Rugby Club chairman, said in the end this proved enough to have the goalposts replaced.

He said: “We have got the new posts up on the pitch, they’ve been up for about a week now.

“All the repairs are done, and we have a little bit left over which we will be putting towards getting the fences on Northfield Road fixed and secured.

“We are also hoping to fit new gates which will hopefully keep people out.

“There is a walkway next to the pitch which will remain open but we are also hoping to put some fencing up next to the ginnel which runs alongside Wibsey Primary School to stop people using the pitch as a playground.

“The union team’s first home game is on Saturday so we are all good to go for the new season.”

Mr Brooke also revealed the club has applied for additional funding from the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League to develop the site into a community sports hub.

“We are hoping to install some dugouts and also replace the barriers around the pitch,” he added.

“We want to develop what used to be the all-weather pitch further down the site, and become a community sports area.

“Rugby league and union will be the main sports but we have had an approach from a Sunday League football team looking to invest; we are having a meeting in a couple of weeks.

“The new pitch could be used for both sports and also as a training pitch, but we need funding from the RFU and RFL first. This won’t happen overnight.”

US, Canada, Mexico 2026 bid inviting venue submissions

LOS ANGELES: The United States, Mexico and Canada’s bid for the 2026 World Cup on Tuesday invited 44 cities across the three nations to declare an interest in staging games at the football extravaganza, a statement said.

A total of 49 stadiums in the candidate cities have been considered for inclusion in the official World Cup bid which will be submitted to FIFA by March 16, 2018.

The joint North American bid is seen as the favourite for the 2026 World Cup, with only one other bid – Morocco – so far in the running for the tournament.

The USMexico-Canada World Cup bid will submit between 20-25 venues in its final bid to FIFA, with 12 locations likely to be chosen as host cities.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first tournament using FIFA’s expanded 48-team format.

“The Host Cities included in our bid will be critical to its success – not only because of their facilities and ability to stage major events, but because they are committed to further developing the sport of soccer by harnessing the impact of hosting a FIFA World Cup – and looking beyond the game itself to make a positive contribution to our communities and the world,” said United Bid Committee Executive Director John Kristick.

“We have had a great response so far and we’re looking forward to working closely with each city and determining the best venues for our official bid that we’ll submit next year.”

Bid officials have said 60 of the tournament’s matches would be staged in the United States, with Canada and Mexico hosting 10 games each.

The United States will host all knockout games from the quarter-finals onwards.

Stadiums under consideration in the United States include several venues used in the 1994 World Cup, including the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Other venues include the new Los Angeles Stadium, and the 105,000-capacity AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Seven cities in Canada are under consideration, including Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Toronto and Vancouver.

Mexico’s proposed venues are limited to three stadiums, most notably Mexico City’ Estadio Azteca, the stage for the 1970 and 1986 World Cup finals. — AFP

Sharapova receives US Open wildcard for first post-ban Slam

NEW YORK: Five-time major champion Maria Sharapova of Russia will play her first Grand Slam event since serving a 15-month doping suspension after receiving a wildcard Tuesday into the US Open.

The move by the US Tennis Association (USTA) comes after Sharapova, ranked 148th this week, was rejected for a wildcard spot into the French Open and missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury.

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open and was suspended by the International Tennis Federation, a ban that ended in April.

Since then, Sharapova has needed wildcards to get into tournaments, drawing criticism from some fellow professionals.

“Her suspension under the terms of the tennis anti-doping program was completed and therefore was not one of the factors weighed in our wildcard selection process,” the USTA said in a statement.

“Consistent with past practice, a wildcard was provided to a past US champion who needed the wildcard for entry into the main draw. Previous US Open champions who have received US Open main draw wildcards include Martina Hingis, Lleyton Hewitt, Kim Clijsters and Juan Martin del Potro.”

Former world number one Sharapova won the 2006 US Open as well as Wimbledon in 2014, the 2008 Australian Open and the 2012 and 2014 French Opens.

Sharapova will also speak to youth about the benefits of the anti-doping program and the need for players to be vigilant about the banned substance list, something she admitted not doing when she did not catch meldonium being added to the ban list in 2016.

“Additionally, Sharapova has volunteered to speak to young tennis players at the USTA national campus about the importance of the tennis anti-doping program and the personal responsibility each player has to comply with the program’s requirements,” the USTA said.

Sharapova has shaken off criticism from rival players about wildcards and the French Open snub, tweeting after being denied a spot at Roland Garros, “If this is what it takes to rise up again, then I am in it all the way, everyday. No words, games or actions will ever stop me from reaching my own dreams. And I have many.”

Sharapova has withdrawn from US Open warm-up tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati the past two weeks after suffering a left forearm injury at Stanford.

In her first US match since March 2015, Shrapova defeated American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 at Stanford.

But in the triumph, Sharapova suffered the forearm injury that has sidelined her since, even after arriving in Cincinnati hopeful of playing as a wildcard in the final major tuneup before the US Open.

“Following the doctor’s advice on-site, as a precaution for the US Open, I am unfortunately withdrawing from the tournament with the left forearm injury I sustained in Stanford,” Sharapova said. — AFP

Ronaldo ban sours Madrid’s march towards more silverware

MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo is banned, but it would take a huge upset for Real Madrid’s trophy-winning streak to be ended by Barcelona on Wednesday (kick off 2100GMT) as they carry a 3-1 lead into the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

Ronaldo’s five-match ban for pushing the referee after being controversially sent-off for diving in the first leg threatens to overshadow another glorious night for Real as they close in on a seventh trophy in less than two years under the tutelage of Zinedine Zidane.

Madrid fans are planning a protest in the seventh minute against the treatment of the World Player of the Year, whilst Zidane was uncharacteristically angered by the ban.

“When you look at everything that happened, to think Cristiano won’t play five games with us… it is infuriating.”

Ronaldo came off the bench to give Madrid a 2-1 lead at the Camp Nou on Sunday with a sensational strike into the top corner.

However, he was then booked for taking his shirt off in celebration and saw a second yellow card just two minutes later when he went down under pressure from Samuel Umtiti inside the area.

The Portuguese captain then pushed referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea before leaving the field – an offence that carries a minimum four-game suspension.

Madrid’s appeal against his second yellow will be heard on Wednesday morning, but even if it is successful the ban will likely only be reduced from five to four games.

Nothing impossible

Real, though, showed they can cope admirably without their all-time top scorer as even a man down for the final stages at the Camp Nou, they went onto extend their through Marco Asensio’s sumptuous strike.

Shorn of Ronaldo, Zidane is expected to make just one change from the side that started at the weekend with Luka Modric returning from suspension in place of Mateo Kovacic.

And Zidane warned against complacency as Barca have won on three of their last four visits to the Bernabeu.

“In football nothing is over. We have to play really well because at any moment Barcelona can cause you problems,” added the Frenchman.

Defeat in Ernesto Valverde’s first game in charge compounded a miserable start to the season for Barcelona after losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We have an adverse result going into the second leg, of that there is no doubt, but nothing is impossible,” said Valverde.

“We maintain our idea of going there to win the game and bring back the title. Yes it is difficult, but we aren’t going to give up beforehand.”

Barca need to score at least three times to have any chance of turning the tie around, but can take hope from the fact they have scored 12 goals in their last four visits to the Bernabeu.

“Scoring three goals there won’t be easy but we have done it many times,” said midfielder Sergio Busquets.

Still in search for a replacement for Neymar, Barca are further weakened by the absence of captain Andres Iniesta who is out due to a right thigh injury.

New signing Paulinho won’t be involved as he doesn’t arrive in Barcelona until Thursday. — AFP