Just a few short weeks ago, we all witnessed a monumental sporting moment – football finally came home.
And it was the women’s game that did it, only a year since the England men’s team came so close to lifting the Euros trophy themselves.
The nation is bursting with pride for the phenomenal achievements of every player on England women’s team, affectionately known as The Lionesses, but we just had to give a little shout out to one of our local girls.
Ella Toone. The Wigan-born star has been called wonder kid and a golden girl, but she prefers to be ‘just Ella’.
The 22-year-old has built the bulk of her sporting career here in Greater Manchester.
Born in Tyldesley, she spent many years as a junior at Manchester United – but the team, until very recently, didn’t have a senior women’s team for her to move up to.
So it was off to Blackburn she went, then briefly she played for Manchester City, before finally joining Man Utd in 2018 for their inaugural season.
In an interview with BBC Sport, Ella – a life-long United (and Cristiano Ronaldo) fan – said: “It’s the best feeling in the world. Growing up a Manchester United fan, and then being able to play week in week out for the club that you love and support is really special.
“Growing up it was tough – I was in the United academy for seven/eight years, and there was nothing to look up to. There was no women’s team to try and get in to.”
But once news of a Manchester United women’s squad landed, Ella said: “It was home. I knew that my ambitions matched theirs. I’ve been happy ever since.”
Fast forward to 2022, and she has become a household name thanks to her stunning performance with the England Women’s team at the Euros.
Ella’s impeccable chip into the net had all of Wembley on its feet during the final, and it was one of two goals that saw England storm to victory.
Along with her teammates, she is now riding the wave of the team’s success to try and make changes that will last an eternity.
The Lionesses recently penned an open letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, demanding that young girls are given the opportunity to get into the sport and that women’s football is given proper investment from school age onwards.
They told the prospective PMs that only 63% of girls can play football in PE at school, saying ‘a generation of school girls deserve more.’
The letter stated: “Throughout the Euros, we as a team spoke about our legacy and goal to inspire a nation. Many will think that this has already been achieved, but we see this as only the beginning.
“We are looking to the future. We want to create real change in this country and we are asking you, if you were to become Prime Minister on 5 September, to help an achieve that change.”
The highly-praised letter went on to ask the Government to ensure all girls have access to a minimum of two hours a week of P.E.
The co-signed letter said: “They deserve to play football at lunchtime, they deserve to play football in PE lessons and they deserve to believe they can one day play for England. We want their dreams to also come true.
“This is an opportunity to make a huge difference. A change that will impact millions of young girls’ lives. We – the 23 members of the England Senior Women’s EURO squad – ask you to make it a priority to invest into girls’ football in schools, so that every girl has the choice.”
And as Ella Toone herself once said – “I was once just a little girl with a lot of dreams, and I’ve managed to achieve them.”
About Manc of the Month
We all know that Manchester is home to some special people, some born here and others drawn here, and after a bumpy two years that effectively amounted to one big lockdown, it’s these special people that have inspired and led us through the tough times – so we decided to start a series that shines a light on those who should be celebrated.
New figures reveal just how much money Manchester United still owe
Manchester United have published their financial report for Q2 and, surprise, surprise, they still owe absolutely tonnes of money.
Sharing the figures for the three months leading up to 31 December on Thursday as we approach the end of the tax year, the club revealed that, in total, the club still owe just shy of £1 billion in various outstanding sums.
Not only does this mark nearly 18 years of debt since the Glazer leveraged buyout in 2005, which immediately put them in over £500 million’s worth of debt, but it also means that the total amount has grown larger and the chances of an imminent takeover are now even more likely.
Breaking down the figures into different sections, Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol explained how although’s United principal debt remains at approximately $650m, a change in the exchange rate meant they owed £535.7m compared to £477.1m at the same point in the previous year. It’s still growing…
Through a combination of gross debt, bank loans and transfer costs with associated fees still yet to be paid, the club owe a whopping £969.6m in outstanding sums. Crikey.
On top the flat rate of debt, £206.2m has been taken from a rolling credit facility (various loans), with another £227.7m owed in outstanding transfer fees, having spent £211.5m on incoming players last summer and a further £49m in the January transfer window as well.
On the other side, despite an increase in debt has increased and overall revenue dropping by 10%, commercial revenue is said to have increased by 43.2% from just £6.3m to over £50m.
The board have insisted to the BBC that figures are evidence of a “stretched” financial situation and that income such as ticket sales are looking as “impressive” as ever. However, it is also worth noting that wages have only gone down mainly because the team dropped out of the Champions League.
Furthermore, although none of the Glazer family members took out a dividend for the first time in six years, they also failed to have an investors’ call following the latest financial statement given the ongoing discussions with bidders looking to buy them out.
There are still said to be as many as eight candidates looking to buy the club, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the Qatari’s still leading the race — though new legislation on ‘fit and proper’ owners soon to be brought in by the Premier League could prove problematic for the latter given their human rights record.
Elsewhere, one of the other bidders is Finnish businessman Thomas Zilliacus, whose approach to buying the club is an interesting one, to say the least, and while potentially ‘debt free’, it would take some doing.
The Jockey Club are holding a superhero-themed family fun day at Haydock Park Racecourse this Easter
Looking for something to do with the kids in time for the school holidays? Well, Haydock Park Racecourse have got you sorted for Easter weekend with their Superhero Family Day.
For anyone that’s never made it down to Haydock Park and The Jockey Club before, there’s a reason they’re the biggest horse racing organisation in the UK. There’s much more to it than just watching the horses.
Hosting numerous events throughout the year, Jockey Club are once again turning Haydock into a fun venue for all the family with their superhero-themed Easter celebration, with a whole host of activities, crafts and entertainment, as well a series of jump races.
Taking place on Saturday, 8 April, it’s set to be a great day out whether you bring the kids or go along to soak up the festivities solo.
Bringing characters straight from the comic books to life, Haydock will be offering free children’s entertainment throughout the day, including an inflatable assault course, superhero crafts, face painting, magicians, pony shows and more.
There’s even going to be a kid’s costume competition where they can win an Easter chocolate hamper, so make sure they bring along their mask and cape — after all, people always get dressed up when they go to the races!
Adult tickets start from just £25 but, crucially, under 18s go absolutely free so they can enjoy the day and if you’re feeling fancy, you can always book full hospitality packages, complete with a private table, a two-course carvery menu, special access around the venue and more.
You can grab your tickets for the Superhero Family Day HERE.