SPORTS AGENDA: Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith is entertained by Jesse Marsch after Grand Final loss


Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith was quick to find a shoulder to cry on following the Super League club’s Grand Final defeat by St Helens. 

The Australian headed over to Leeds United’s training ground on Friday, where he was entertained by the Premier League side’s manager Jesse Marsch.

Smith, who also did some filming for the forthcoming rugby league World Cup, took in Marsch’s session before speaking at length to the affable American.

Leeds Rhinos’ Rohan Smith was entertained by Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch (above)

 Jota’s strong build-up play

Defenders may soon struggle to knock Liverpool’s Diogo Jota off the ball — with the Portuguese looking to build TWO gyms at his new pad.

The striker has pitched up in the old home of former Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti and wants to add an extension complete with dressing room, swimming pool, steam room, whirlpool bath, cinema room, snug and two work-out areas.

Like the ex-Toffees boss, Jota, 25, is believed to be renting the £2million luxury five-bed pad. There have been no objections to the plans from his neighbours, who include former Liverpool players Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler.

Liverpool and Portugal forward Diogo Jota is looking to build two gyms at his new pad

Liverpool and Portugal forward Diogo Jota is looking to build two gyms at his new pad

Everton’s Haaland heartache  

Former Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson stuck the boot into his beloved Everton following the Manchester derby, recalling that on a 2018 visit to Finch Farm — the Toffees’ training ground — he had watched a video of an 18-year-old Erling Haaland but was told by then chief executive Robert Elstone that at £7m he was too expensive. 

Agenda understands that at one point Everton were told £5m would be enough to praise the striker — who hit a hat-trick for Manchester City against United yesterday — from Norwegian club Molde. 

The move was not sanctioned because the fee was deemed too much for a player who would have joined the Under 23s.

Everton deemed £5million to be too much to sign Man City's Erling Haaland in 2018

Everton deemed £5million to be too much to sign Man City’s Erling Haaland in 2018 

EFL chairman to host a dinner for Tory MPs

EFL chairman Rick Parry will this week host a dinner for Tory MPs at the Conservative Party conference. It is likely that the prospect of an independent regulator for football will be among the topics of conversation in Birmingham.

The EFL hope a regulator would order the Premier League to pay considerably more to those further down the pyramid than the current offering. Insiders have disclosed that they are also attempting to get the PFA on board with their cause.

The EFL are yet to receive any proposals from the Premier League regarding redistribution.

Rick Parry will this week host a dinner for Tory MPs at the Conservative Party conference

Rick Parry will this week host a dinner for Tory MPs at the Conservative Party conference

Cricket’s Olympics hopes 

Cricket’s hopes of getting an improbable place in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics will hinge on the two-hour meeting each short-listed sport has with the organisers.

It is bound to be a slick presentation, with plenty of funds behind the campaign. However, the sense is that cricket’s plans will be stumped quite quickly if baseball (also competing for a place) secures an agreement with the Major League to allow their top stars can compete at the Games.

England’s sponsorship desperation 

Rugby league is a sport that has often been hampered by those in charge and it would appear the morons running it continue to harm its progress. With just two weeks until the World Cup kick-off, hosts England are yet to attract additional shorts sponsors to Ronseal and are offering the opportunity for £40,000 via third parties and a frantic ring-around. 

The situation is all the more embarrassing given they have had even longer than expected to find commercial partners because the tournament was delayed by a year. Insiders say announcements are expected this week.

Meanwhile, bungling RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer was forced to make a grovelling apology last week after being caught mocking the Fiji squad. Incredibly, a video of Rimmer making a crass comment remained on the sport’s website 48 hours after the story broke in the national media.

Ralph Rimmer was forced to make an apology after being caught mocking the Fiji squad

Ralph Rimmer was forced to make an apology after being caught mocking the Fiji squad

Bolton’s Ryder Cup bid  

Bolton’s bid to host a Ryder Cup will this week go before a key Government inquiry. Developers Peel L&P were left stunned when their ambitious £250million plans to turn historic Hulton Park, currently closed to the public, into a Championship golf course were rejected by councillors in the town amid a NIMBY backlash.

 Revised plans will this week be the subject of a two-day hearing and, should the council’s decision be overturned, it would reinforce the aim to host the sport’s biggest tournament. Bolton remains one of only two English venues short-listed by UK Sport and Ryder Cup Europe to stage the 2031 version of golf’s greatest rivalry.

 The revised plans include an academy which officials believe will serve as a centre of excellence for young golfers in the North-West.

 British Cycling’s new appointment 

British Cycling have appointed their first external affairs director. With an eye on increasing their influence, they will today announce that Caroline Julian, a former director of policy and public affairs, will become the first person to take the role. 

Julian will be tasked with leading relations with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and other Government departments. The keen cyclist previously worked at the ResPublica think tank.

 Plymouth Argyle to honour legend Jack Leslie 

A statue to honour a footballer who should have been the first black man to play for England is to be unveiled on Friday.

Following a crowdfunding campaign which sailed past its £100,000 target, Plymouth Argyle legend Jack Leslie will be honoured outside Home Park.

Leslie was picked for England in 1925 but did not subsequently make the squad — with the story being that FA board members pulled the invite when they realised the colour of his skin.

Jack Leslie will be honoured by Plymouth Argyle with a statue at Home Park

Jack Leslie will be honoured by Plymouth Argyle with a statue at Home Park 

Manchester United’s press conference U-turn 

Mo Farah, Eilish McColgan and Brigid Kosgei were not the only withdrawals from this year’s London Marathon.

Many of those present to report on the event were horrified to find organisers had done away with the traditional bacon rolls and pastries for the press pack.

Meanwhile, those who cover Manchester United were left fuming when they booked Tuesday flights to Cyprus for this week’s Europa League match on Thursday, only to be told by the club that they had obtained permission from UEFA to stage their pre-match press conference in Manchester — on Tuesday. 

United’s stance is that they had little option given the late arrival of their flight and add that no guarantees were given that the event would be in Cyprus.

Manchester United's press conference is set to be held in Manchester instead of Cyprus

Manchester United’s press conference is set to be held in Manchester instead of Cyprus 

Brawls at Wrexham  

Wrexham’s Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney may have hoped the episode of their Disney+ series on hooligans at the National League club would have deterred fans from getting involved in trouble. 

That did not appear to be the case before and after the Welsh side’s victory over Oldham on Saturday. The clubs have history and footage of street brawls well away from the stadium, involving dozens of fans from each side, were posted on social media.

Wrexham's Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds (left) and Rob McElhenney (right)

Wrexham’s Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds (left) and Rob McElhenney (right)

LA concerned by 2030 Salt Lake City Winter Games bid

There is mounting concern among the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic organising committee over the prospect of the 2030 Winter Games ending up in Salt Lake City. The two other cities in contention, Sapporo and Vancouver, have seen their chances dwindle in recent weeks.

Sapporo’s hopes have been severely dented by a widening Olympic corruption scandal around Tokyo 2020, while Vancouver have seen their odds lengthen owing to strong local opposition and the fact that Toronto is likely to bid for the 2036 Olympics.

LA28 officials are concerned that, should Salt Lake City secure the 2030 Winter Games, the difficult task of reaching LA’s sponsorship targets in the recession-hit US market will become nigh-on impossible, with their Utah rival fishing from the same pond at the same time.



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