SPORTS AGENDA: Tottenham are finding out if pets can win prizes

Tottenham executive director Donna-Maria Cullen has been bringing her dog to the club’s training ground as they examine whether its presence improves mental health.

Meanwhile, only 12 members of the written press are expected to be allowed to travel Down Under for England’s Ashes tour of Australia.  

Christian Horner has also struck up an unlikely friendship with heavyweight champions Tyson Fury – messaging the Gypsy King ahead of his trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder on Saturday night. Here’s the latest insides from Sports Agenda…

Tottenham chief Donna-Maria Cullen has set tongues wagging by bringing her dogs to work

TONGUES WAGGING AT TOTTENHAM 

Tottenham executive director Donna-Maria Cullen has set tongues wagging in the office by bringing her dog to work. On two occasions, Daniel Levy’s No 2 has been joined for half a day at Lilywhite House by the pet, described as ‘large and friendly’.

Some at Spurs’ offices have lapped up the dog’s arrival and have taken it for walks — although its presence has not gone down well with others, especially those with allergies. 

Spurs say the move is part of a trial, with the club examining whether to allow staff to do the same in a bid to improve mental health. No final decision has been made. 

Tottenham executive director Donna-Maria Cullen has set tongues wagging in the office by bringing her dog to work. The club are examining whether it improves mental health

Tottenham executive director Donna-Maria Cullen has set tongues wagging in the office by bringing her dog to work. The club are examining whether it improves mental health

PRESS OUTRAGE FOR THE ASHES 

Only 12 members of the written press are expected to be given the green light to cover England’s Ashes tour, in a move that has been greeted with universal dismay.

Those involved were also advised to go through the laborious application process for one type of visa, before then being told they would have to apply for a different one. 

The lucky dozen will have to find flights, which may prove the most challenging element. The BBC, who have the radio rights, are aiming to have their team in Australia for the duration.

Only 12 members of the written press are expected to be given the green light to cover England’s Ashes tour, in a move that has been greeted with universal dismay

Only 12 members of the written press are expected to be given the green light to cover England’s Ashes tour, in a move that has been greeted with universal dismay 

PREMIER LEAGUE PUSH TO GET PLAYERS VACCINATED 

The Premier League continue to seek ways to ensure their players have the Covid jab, given issues over low uptake. 

It was interesting, then, to hear the ‘vast majority’ of the NFL stars from the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons, who clashed in London on Sunday, are fully vaccinated.

THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS REMAIN FAVOURITES 

The New England Patriots remain the UK’s favourite team, despite a fall from grace underlined when former quarterback Tom Brady returned to lead his injury-decimated Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory earlier this month. 

The Patriots are still well ahead of the likes of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

The New England Patriots remain the UK’s favourite team, despite a fall from grace underlined by Tom Brady ability to guide Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory earlier this month

The New England Patriots remain the UK’s favourite team, despite a fall from grace underlined by Tom Brady ability to guide Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory earlier this month

NFL DEMAND REMAINS HIGH IN UK 

Demand remains as high as ever for NFL tickets in the UK. Sunday’s clash at the Tottenham Stadium could have sold out ‘several times over’. 

This week, the three German cities bidding for a fixture in the 2022 or 2023 season will be announced, but there are no concerns that this will impact the bid for a franchise in this country.

The general view is that the UK has now shown it has the fan base, commercial agreements, infrastructure and stadiums to become the permanent home of a team. 

However, the NFL is unlikely to expand from its current 32-franchise format, and it would take one of the 32 to agree to move before a UK team becomes a reality.

 BT SPORT’S TAKEOVER BY DAZN THRUSTED INTO THE SPOTLIGHT 

The proposed takeover of BT Sport by DAZN was brought further into focus by Tyson Fury’s knockout of Deontay Wilder.

BT have an exclusive deal with promoter Frank Warren, which includes Fury fights, while DAZN recently penned an exclusive deal with rival Eddie Hearn. Insiders say it is one of many complex issues to be resolved ahead of any mega-deal.

The takeover of BT Sport by DAZN was brought further into focus by Fury’s knockout of Wilder

The takeover of BT Sport by DAZN was brought further into focus by Fury’s knockout of Wilder

NIGEL HUDDLESTON PAYS A VISIT TO BRITISH CYCLING  

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston paid a visit to British Cycling last week and discussed opportunities provided by BMX Freestyle, following the stunning Olympic successes of Beth Shriever and Kye Whyte.

Officials are already seeing a spike in the numbers of youngsters heading to local clubs. UK Sport also support the Lancashire-Norfolk manufacturing of the Hope-Lotus track bike — which keeps production in this country — and is expected to continue doing so.

SAUDI TAKE OVER EXPLAINED  

The team working on the takeover of Newcastle United — including Amanda Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi — managed to keep their location secret for 48 hours last week as they worked around the clock from a room at Jesmond Dene House.

The quaint hotel, tucked away next to a Tyneside beauty spot, remained open for guests, business meetings, lunches and dinners.

Staveley kept out of sight but members of the public in the bar got a surprise when, after the deal was signed off on Thursday, she walked in for a celebratory drink and was given a round of applause. 

One couple, visiting their son at university, were sitting reading coverage of the takeover without realising they were at the heart of the story. They twigged when the woman on the screen in front of them walked into the room.

A team worked around the clock and kept their location a secret before the club was taken over by Saudi's Public Investment Fund, led by Prince Mohamed bin Salman, was completed

A team worked around the clock and kept their location a secret before the club was taken over by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, led by Prince Mohamed bin Salman, was completed

EFL CLUBS WILL FINALLY MEET FACE-TO-FACE AND IT’S SET TO BE FEISTY 

EFL clubs will meet face-to-face for the first time since the pandemic and the gathering on Wednesday at Walsall is likely to be a feisty affair.

Insiders say top of the agenda will be how to push for a better redistribution of money from the top flight.

The ludicrous, field-distorting parachute payments will also be under the microscope while the financial Armageddon making its way through the Championship is another key area to be discussed.

CHRISTIAN HORNER REVEALS UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP WITH TYSON FURY  

One of the more unlikely sporting friendships emerged this weekend when Red Bull Racing’s team principal told friends that he had been exchanging messages with Tyson Fury. 

Christian Horner wished the heavyweight champion good luck, to which Fury replied: ‘Don’t worry, I’m gonna smash him.’

Christian Horner wished heavyweight champion Tyson Fury good luck before his fight

Christian Horner wished heavyweight champion Tyson Fury good luck before his fight

MORE OLYMPIC WOES AHEAD

If those who travelled to the Tokyo Games thought it was a tough gig — with severe restrictions on movement due to Covid — the Beijing Winter Olympics in February will be on a whole new level.

Reports from officials who have attended test events in China’s capital highlight hours spent in hotel rooms, no social media, no Netflix, no Amazon deliveries to hotels and — crucially for many — no access to affordable booze.

SLADE SPEARHEADS MAJOR LAWSUIT 

A major lawsuit spearheaded by former Cardiff City manager Russell Slade has now been signed by more than 850 players.

The ex-Cardiff boss is leading a group which is set to sue companies using their personal data without paying for the privilege.

The move could see players compensated for the use of their data.

What would be a group action would target firms such as those who make computer games and betting companies.

Slade is leading the Global sports data and Technology Group Ltd’s (GSDT) Project Red Card.

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