Manchester City and England star Jack Grealish is helping pay for the funeral costs of Aston Villa fan, Shawn Francis, who died suddenly this weekend.
The 29-year-old lifelong Villa fan and season ticket holder was sadly found dead on Saturday, 29 April. His cause of death is yet to be confirmed.
Tragically, Francis was set to become a father for the first time this summer and a GoFundMe has now been set up to help pay for the funeral costs and support his partner Danielle with a baby on the way.
With Villa being his boyhood club for 19 years and said to be a friend of Shawn’s, Grealish was one of hundreds that have already contributed to the fundraiser, donating £5,000 which has already helped his family reach nearly £25,000 of the £30k target. Well, in Jack.
Sharing a tribute on Shawn’s Instagram page, his family said: “Heaven gained the most beautiful and purest angel of all. Our hearts will forever be missing a huge piece that you filled. You were the most caring, loving, honest and fun person who deserved more from life.”
His partner of five years wrote: “Our son will be your legacy and we know that through him you will always be with us. He will always know how special and amazing his daddy is.”
You can donate to Shawn Francis’ funeral fundraising page HERE to help Danielle and the baby financially during this tough time.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in peace.
Featured Image — Jack Grealish (via Instagram)/GoFundMe
Andy Cole makes the case for Ivan Toney as a January transfer target for Manchester United
Manchester United legend Andy Cole has suggested that Manchester United should consider making sidelined striker Ivan Toney their next transfer target in the January window as they look to strengthen their side.
The Brentford striker is currently serving an eight-month ban following a total of 232 breaches of FA rules for gambling offences and hasn’t played since May but is, nevertheless, still considered one of the best centre-forwards in the Premier League and earned his first England call-up back in March.
Following an Athletic report which claimed an unnamed football agent has now confirmed Toney is “destined” to leave the West London club once he returns to the fold, the former Man United player and prolific number nine has said he believes Toney would be a good addition.
In an interview with Betfred, the 51-year-old said of Toney, “I like him. If Manchester United did move to sign Ivan, then he’s only going to make them a little bit better than they find themselves at this exact moment.”
“He’s been a key player for Brentford and he’s scored plenty of goals for them in the Premier League”, says Cole; “if the opportunity came up, then why shouldn’t Manchester United consider signing him?”
While he did go on to say that the prospect depends on what the club’s recruitment plan is going forward, he insisted that given Toney’s experience at the top level now and that he’s commonly considered in his ‘prime’ years now, he could add more goal threat.
Cole even went on to suggest that Toney could form a partnership up top for United, adding, “he could even help Rasmus Højlund come through.” Højlund scored his first goal on his Champions League debut for the club in their 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich.
Although he acknowledged that it might be a step up for the forward, it goes without saying that Erik ten Hag‘s team are in a difficult period right so far this season, not to mention with absences and injuries piling up, and he also compared the potential challenge to his own move up the football pyramid.
“When I moved from Bristol City to Newcastle, did people believe I could make the step up? I don’t think they did, but I was able to. When I moved from Newcastle to Man United, did people believe I could make the step up? I don’t think so but I proved that I could, so it’s all about giving players the opportunity…”
“You’re never going to know whether they’re capable or not until they’re given the opportunity to show that they can do it.” Cole also argued that regardless of his well-publicised off-field issues with betting, like with United’s other ongoing dramas at present, they “shouldn’t have an impact on the players”.
Citing Brighton’s Evan Ferguson as another “really good player” that many clubs will be interested in come January and next summer, he said that the likelihood of him signing him is less favourable, noting that “if [he’s] scoring hat-tricks in the Premier League, then he’s already worth around £100 million now by that comparison.”
When speaking in his tell-all podcast interview back in August, Toney did reveal that he’s been a Liverpool fan all his life but that he “like[s] watching Arsenal and how they play and kind of how passionate the fans are”.
The Gunners have already been linked with a possible £50 million sweep for his signature but we’ve seen plenty of targets snapped up by rival clubs already this season. Would you take Ivan Toney at Old Trafford, United fans?
Featured Image — Ivan Toney/Andy Cole (via Instagram)
Sale Sharks Academy raise over £17,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after completing Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon
Sale Sharks’ Academy team have managed to raise over £17,000 for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after completing the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon earlier this year.
The inaugural Leeds Marathon, named after former rugby league icon and motor neurone disease campaigner Rob Burrow, took place back in May with more than 12,000 people taking part and over £4 million raised in charitable donations for various worthy causes. Immense.
While MND was obviously a key focus of the event after Burrow was diagnosed with the condition in December 2019, those joining in could choose to fundraise for any organisation and, in the instance of the Sale Sharks, they chose something close to home and their hearts.
Running the 26.2 miles in aid of the RMCH, the largest children’s hospital in the UK, Sharks Academy manager Fergus Mulchrone and six members of his backroom staff raised a whopping total of £17,048.
With help from Peninsula, who committed to matching the amount raised by Mulchrone and his coaches, the team saw their total of £7,303 raised through their JustGiving page alone, along with further donations amassed in the build-up and after the event, doubled by the organisation.
Teaming up with the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Peninsula agreed to double the total donations figure provided the Sharks hit their target; that’s exactly what they did and then some.
Following their impressive feat, the hospital tweeted: “Congratulations to Sale Sharks who ran the Leeds Marathon AND hit their £5,000 fundraising target. They’re the first to raise the £5K eligible for match-funding by Peninsula in our ‘Making a Difference…Together’ scheme.”
The initiative, which is set to run throughout the entirety of 2023, saw the HR, health and safety firm set aside £100,000 to encourage businesses to do their bit and help raise money for the hospital.