We refuse to believe any UK football fan didn’t let out a little smile upon hearing the news that Ben Foster came out of retirement to re-sign for Wrexham AFC nearly 20 years on from his first spell.
The 39-year-old goalkeeper called time on his playing days at the end of last season after slowly moving towards becoming a squad player-come-YouTuber over the past few years and having already enjoyed a long and successful career.
However, following a nudge from the coach and celebrity owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, he was convinced to lace up his boots once more and the former United, Stoke, West Brom and Watford man will now be playing between the sticks at the Racecourse Ground until the end of the season.
To make things even more wholesome, the Premier League veteran has confessed that transfer talks didn’t last long, confessing on his YouTube and Spotify show, the Fozcast: “To be honest, the negotiations took about five minutes”, adding that he’s been paid “literally peanuts”.
Nevertheless, Foster admitted that he doesn’t need much money after such a great career up and down the football pyramid and while “things changed a lot since [he] was last here”, he said, “it’s nice to be back” and labelled manager Phil Parkinson “top class”.
Parkinson, an EFL journeyman himself, had similarly complimentary words for the seasoned keeper, stating: “We’re delighted to welcome Ben to the club. With Rob Lainton getting injured at the weekend, it was important we had all bases covered going into the last part of the season, which this signing ensures.”
The ex-England international first played for Wrexham back in 2005 when he was loaned out by Stoke City and went on to win the EFL Trophy — his first-ever piece of silverware. Now he’s back to help them finally get out of the National League (currently three points clear at the top with a game in hand).
As for his expectations for the season, he said the goal is simple: “getting the team over the line and getting them promoted”, adding “I’m a very low-maintenance player. Just wheel me out, I’ll do a job.” Now that’s the kind of attitude we can get behind.
Speaking to talkSPORT after the sudden move, he revealed that the whole deal felt just as out of the blue for him too, detailing how he got a call from the manager after a bike ride one day and, before he knew it, he’d given them the thumbs up.
Shedding some light on his discussions with the Hollywood owners, he said that Reynolds “actually slid into [his] DMs” once the agreement had been confirmed, joking: “I’m buzzing I’ve got Ryan Reynolds in there, I ain’t even replied to him! I’ll leave him hanging for a bit!”
He went on to admit that he actually approached him first, messaging, “I used to play for Wrexham and if you’re ever available for a podcast I’d love you to come.” Thankfully, he finally responded, saying: “Mate, sorry I didn’t reply. I’ll definitely do the podcast with you, thank you for signing.”
That Deadpool episode is going to be a great watch… You can see him talking about the surprise transfer in full on his YouTube channel down below:
With one of the lowest average ages in the league, the squad’s stellar second-place finish looks to be a sign of even better things to come next season.
Better still, the accolades didn’t stop there as player turned coach (for this season at least), Ryan Williams, won the National Futsal Series Tier Two Coach of the Year award at the 2023 Grand Finals as well.
After suffering a heavy ACL injury, Williams decided to spend his year coaching the B team, which he also led to second position, finishing just six points behind league leaders Derby and only just missing out on a place in the Futsal Champions League preliminaries.
At just 23, Ryan is one of the youngest to have ever won the award and having studied at Ashton Sixth Form College, the school passed on a “huge well done” to the youngster, adding that “the Sport and Public Services department, in particular, are hugely proud of your achievement.”
Writing on social media, Williams also heaped massive praise and credit on co-owner Ilya Ovechkin and coach Raducio King, among many others, who helped him on his coaching journey.
Speaking to The Manc, he went on to add: “It was my first season working with this squad and the competition was high.
“There was never an easy game with a lot of other great coaches across the country in Tier 2, so to win Coach of the Season is my greatest achievement as a coach. Manchester Futsal winning Club of the Season also goes to show our club values and how well the club is run from the academy right up to the first team.
“It shows how much work all the staff have put in this season to make us the best club in the country.”
With two teams finishing as runners-up in the two highest leagues in the country, and the women’s team beginning to shape an exciting new squad ahead of returning to the fold next season, it’s been a brilliant year all-round for Manchester Futsal Club. We’re excited to see what comes next.
Featured Image — Manchester Futsal Club (via Twitter)
Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim gives Manchester United an ultimatum after submitting fifth bid
Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has issued Manchester United an ultimatum after submitting a fifth and supposedly final bid to buy the club.
Entering his fifth revised bid to buy Man United outright on Wednesday, the Middle Eastern banker and member of the Qatari royal family is reported to have told the club he is willing to pay “no more than £6 billion” for the takeover, an offer which sees him become the first to match the Glazer’s asking price.
However, in trying to give the negotiations a much-needed jolt — with Sheikh Jassim said to have grown frustrated with the long, drawn-out bidding process — his latest proposal also came with an ultimatum, telling the owners that they have until Friday, 8 June to accept his offer or else he will walk away.
So, rather than being strung along by the Glazers any further and potentially being dragged into another round of bidding with an arbitrary deadline, he has now given them until the end of the week to return their decision.
As Sky Sports‘ Kaveh Solhekol went on to explain, Sheikh Jassim is now “frustrated and fed up” with how the bidding process has gone thus far, noting that talks first began almost seven months ago and there have been multiple so-called ‘deadlines’ that have led to little consequence or progress.
As a result, his bidding team have told the Glazers, board members and the Raine Group officials overseeing any potential deal that he will “no longer engage with the process” if the fifth bid is not accepted by Friday.
The chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) who spent time in England whilst being educated at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst also wants to get the deal done as quickly as possible in order to clear the debts and properly fund the project at the earliest opportunity ahead of next season.
In addition to clearing United’s debts which are estimated to be just under £1bn, the sheikh will reportedly pump sizeable funds into redeveloping the stadium (or building a new one) and investing in the squad. While his exact net worth is not known, his family’s wealth is estimated at around £275 billion.
As for whether the Glazers will actually adhere to Sheikh Jassim’s deadline and accept his fifth and final bid, it remains to be seen, but it looks like someone needs to take charge in these negotiations if they actually going to move forward.
Gary Neville has already warned that the “shoddy” bidding process could end up jeopardising next season if it continues to go on any longer and many fans think the Qatari prince’s all-or-nothing offer is the only option to finally get rid of the Glazers.