Sweden sitting pretty in French Atlantic chateau

The Swedes will find out which teams they face at the draw on Saturday and their fans will begin the scramble for tickets, flights and hotel rooms, but the squad are already sorted.

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Players’ manager Marcus Allback, a former international forward who scored 30 goals in 74 games for his country and played at three European Championships.

“I know what the lads want and what they don’t want, so in that way it’s a good thing that I am involved,” Allback told Reuters.

In his role with the national team, Allback acts as a go-between between the coaching staff, the Swedish FA and the players, and one of his main tasks is to make sure the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic are happy with the facilities.

“We got a catalogue from UEFA with around a hundred hotels in it, with training facilities connected to all of them,” he explained.

“You go through it and filter it down to about 20 or 30. Then you visit them and pretty quickly you’re down to 10 or 15.”

Where Sweden’s matches will be played makes little difference to the choice of base camp.

“You fly in the day before the game to the city where the match is being played and fly out again directly afterwards,” Allback said.

The 42-year-old said it was important for the players to have freedom to move around and to be entertained.

“It’s almost easier to say what we don’t want, which is a high-rise business hotel in the middle of a city. Instead, we like somewhere a little bit outside, preferably where there is water. We like to have a players’ lounge too.”

Allback, who spent his leisure time playing the odd round of golf and watching movies and TV series with room mate Anders Svensson during his international playing days, has already started to focus on his next task.

“The big countries are very fast — a month ago I was in Russia looking at places for the 2018 World Cup and seven countries had already booked. It happens very quickly,” he said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

EasyProperty puts IPO on back burner after Tosca backing

“With Tosca on board, and they’re very keen to back us in a large way, there is really no need to rush to market,” Chief Executive Rob Ellice told Reuters.

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“So, I think we will now delay our outlook to list, just because we don’t need to.”

Ellice, who remains the company’s largest shareholder, said the level of interest in the company was huge, especially with money coming in from places such as Monaco, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The placing could have been 10 times oversubscribed had easyProperty accepted 25 million pounds being offered by a large U.S.-based investor, he added.

The funding round came less than a week after peer Purplebricks Group Plc, backed by star fund manager Neil Woodford, said it had conditionally raised 58.1 million pounds ahead of its London debut.

The online estate agency market is booming, and according to the National Association of Realtors about 90 percent of Britons now search online before buying a house.

Shares in online estate portals Rightmove Plc and Zoopla Property Group Plc – together worth almost 5 billion pounds and catering to over 130 million visitors – have risen 76 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

EasyProperty offers private landlords, housing associations, investors and developers the ability to list and market their properties.

Ellice expects easyProperty to be worth more than a billion pounds within the next two or three years as the company expands overseas.

“We’re not up for sale at the moment … We are acquisitive and aggressive at the moment,” Ellice said.

EasyProperty, currently in hot pursuit of an agent in the UK for 7 million pounds, wants to buy niche estate agents worth 5-10 million pounds that cater to markets such as student housing.

The easyProperty brand is on lease for 20 years from Haji-Ioannou, better known as Stelios, founder of budget airline easyJet Plc.

(Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Wildcats aim to become NBL road warriors

They caught fire at home, but Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson knows his team need to become road warriors over the next month if they are to have a legitimate shot of winning the NBL title.

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The Wildcats put in arguably the best display of the season in their 113-83 rout of Melbourne United in Thursday’s top-of-the-table clash at Perth Arena.

Jermaine Beal led the way with a club-record 10 three-pointers on the way to a 40-point haul, while fellow American Casey Prather (20 points) put in another strong display.

The result catapulted Perth (11-5) into top spot on the NBL table.

But their top-two hopes will go on the line over the next month during a challenging five-game stretch on the road.

The Wildcats start their run on Sunday when they lock horns with the last-placed Kings in Sydney, before facing off against Cairns, Townsville, Melbourne, and Cairns again.

“These next five games are going to mark where we’re going to finish in the season, whether we’ll be in the top two,” Gleeson said.

“Getting a top-two position is crucial if you want to win the championship – to get that home-court advantage.

“We know Melbourne, NZ, and us are right up there. We know how tough it is.”

Gleeson is confident Matt Knight will feature in Sunday’s game against the Kings despite the centre injuring his left shoulder against Melbourne.

Knight fell heavily on the troublesome shoulder while attempting a lay-up, but Gleeson said he could have returned to the court if needed.

“I know Matty’s been pretty tough this year. The shoulder’s popped out a number of times,” Gleeson said.

“He bounces back pretty strong. I was glad to see him get up.”

Real bid to overturn King’s Cup expulsion denied

The club included the ineligible Denis Cheryshev in their starting lineup for last week’s last 32, first leg game at third-tier Cadiz when he should have been serving a one-match ban.

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The Russia forward opened the scoring in a 3-1 victory.

Real said they respected the committee’s decision, announced after a meeting on Friday, and that they would refund anyone who had bought tickets for the return leg due to be played at the Bernabeu stadium on Wednesday.

In a brief statement on their website the club said the match could not be played “on the planned date”, suggesting they still expected to win their appeal and to be reinstated.

Real president Florentino Perez said they did not break the rules and said neither Cheryshev, who incurred the sanction playing on loan at Villarreal last season, nor the 10-times European champions were notified that he was banned.

The Spanish football federation (RFEF) sharply criticised Real in an initial nine-page ruling, saying they should have been aware of the ban, and as well as disqualifying the club fined them 6,001 euros (£4334)

The RFEF rejected Real’s appeal on Thursday and the club filed a further appeal with the TAD which included a request to have the expulsion suspended.

The TAD ruled it had no grounds to suspend the federation’s decision but that it needed more time to make a final decision on the appeal.

The committee, part of the government’s sports council (CSD), normally meets every Friday and a CSD spokesman said it was not immediately clear whether they would bring their next session forward to try to reach a decision before Wednesday.

(Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Toby Davis)