Premier League: Liverpool reject a third bid for Philippe Coutinho…

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Philippe Coutinho will have to wait a little longer for a move away from Merseyside.

Liverpool have rejected a third bid from Barcelona for the Brazillian attacking midfielder. The fee was believed to be in the region of £114m.

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Staying put…for now: Liverpool have rejected another bid for midfielder Philippe Coutinho

Just last week, the Reds rejected a £90m bid for Coutinho from the Spanish giants, leading the 25-year-old to submit a transfer request.

The La Liga side have moved for the Brazillian after selling star player and Coutinho’s fellow countryman Neymar to Paris St Germain for a world record fee of £200m.

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Barca are eyeing Coutinho as a replacement for Neymar, who joined PSG for £200m this summer

Coutinho has missed the opening two games of the season for Liverpool with a back injury and the club has repeatedly stressed that his isn’t for sale. He is also set to miss the home match with Crystal Palace on Saturday (August 19).

However, Barca have previously said that they are close to signing him.

Coutinho had signed a new five-year deal at Anfield in January and it didn’t include a release clause.

Equestrian: David Somerset, 11th Duke of Beaufort, dies…

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David Somerset, the 11th Duke of Beaufort, who has died at the age of 89

David Somerset, the 11th Duke of Beaufort, died peacefully at his home at Badminton yesterday (August 16). He was 89.

The duke, who inherited the title from his cousin in 1984, played a significant part in both eventing and hunting.

He was an excellent horseman, finishing second at the Badminton Horse Trials – the event founded by the 10th Duke in 1949 and held in the grounds ever since – in 1959 when riding Countryman III. He was also a keen hunting man.

As such, he joined the mastership of the family pack of hounds, the Duke of Beaufort’s, in 1974 and continued to be joint master until his death.

He leaves behind his second wife Miranda Morley who, as Miranda Beaufort, has competed to a high level in dressage, and four children. He married Morley in 2000 following the death of his first wife Lady caroline Thynne, who helped him to restore and maintain both the estate, Badminton House and its gardens.

Speedway: Panthers end 10-year wait for silverware with 4TT victory…

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Peterborough Panthers are the 2017 SGB Championship Fours champions

The Peterborough ‘T Balfe Construction’ Panthers defied their underdog status to pick up their first piece of silverware in 10 years on Sunday (August 6).

Already without the in-form Jack Holder due to commitments in Poland and the injured Bradley Wilson-Dean, the patched-up Panthers produced a superb performance to take SGB Championship Fours victory in a meeting which featured all 10 of the league’s teams.

Lining up against Sheffield, Redcar and Ipswich in the 12-heat final, the Panthers stormed to an emphatic success in front of a bumper East of England Arena crowd.

Team captain Ulrich Ostergaard and the impressive Chris Harris reeled off a hat-trick of heat wins a piece as the Panthers piled up 28 points in total to win the meeting.

They sealed victory with just two races to spare as Paul Starke triumphed in Heat 10, ahead of Ipswich captain Danny King. Late call up Simon Lambert also delivered a fine contribution with five points as the hosts starred around their home circuit.

Redcar finished in a creditable second place on 18 points, 10 behind the victorious Panthers, while Sheffield took third on 16. Ipswich, a team that many would have predicted as favourites to win, brought up the rear with just 10 points, having advanced to the final after dominating the second semi-final. Redcar took second place in the group to also advance to the showpiece final.

In the first semi-final, Peterborough followed Sheffield through but then took centre stage with a brilliant performance to secure a first trophy as a team in 10 years.

The last honour for the Panthers came in 2007 when lifting the Elite Shield after an unforgettable Elite League title win in 2006.

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Panthers last won a major trophy in 2006 after capturing the Elite League title. They then won the Elite Shield a year later.

The ‘home’ side made steady progress at the semi-final stage, with the first success of the afternoon arriving in heat two when Harris stormed to victory in a time of 58.6 seconds – a new SGB Championship-level track record.

He also managed a win in heat six as Panthers went level with Sheffield at the top of the group standings, before hitting the front in the meeting courtesy of a winning ride by Ostergaard in heat number eight – their penultimate outing.

Panthers then went into the closing heat of their semi as one of four teams still chasing an all-important spot in the final and a third place from Starke ensured they secured second place behind the Tigers as Workington, Edinburgh and Scunthorpe missed out.

Any pre-tournament inklings that they may not win were soon quashed as the Panthers quickly emerged as title contenders in the final. Harris provided the perfect start in the opening race before Ostergaard produced a superb ride to win heat three ahead of Redcar’s Ben Barker.

A sizzling streak of four wins in five races then turned a fiercely competitive event into one-way traffic.

First up was Harris, producing another fine ride in heat six. He charged from last to first, before Ostergaard delivered a masterful ride of his own in heat eight, finding his way past Ipswich skipper Danny King and Redcar rider Jason Garrity.

Harris then completed his maximum in heat number nine with another supreme charge that put the Panthers on the brink of glory.

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Chris Harris produced a flawless performance as his Peterborough side lifted the SGB Championship Fours title at the East of England Arena on Sunday

That left Starke only needing to finish in front of Redcar man Jonas B Andersen to seal victory. He did just that, taking the wide line to glory while Andersen toiled at the back.

With the win already in the bag, the Panthers refused to ease off. Ostergaard emerged victorious from another terrfic tussle with Garrity in heat 11 to ensure he finished the final with maximum points, before Lambert’s second place in the final race of the afternoon showed strength in depth for the ‘home’ side, culminating in a fantastic afternoon for the team that many had seemingly written off.

SGB Championship Fours result
Semi Final 1…

Sheffield Tigers 16 (Josh Grajczonek 5, Kyle Howarth 4, Tod Kurtz 4, Josh Bates 3)
Peterborough Panthers 14 (Chris Harris 6, Ulrich Ostergaard 5, Paul Starke 2, Simon Lambert 1)
Workington Comets 11 (Thomas Jorgensen 5, Mason Campton 4, Ty Proctor 1, Craig Cook 1)
Scunthorpe Scorpions 10 (Jake Allen 5, Lewis Kerr 3, Josh Auty 2, Michael Palm Toft 0, Ryan Douglas 0)
Edinburgh Monarchs 9 (Erik Riss 5, Ricky Wells 2, Theo Pijper 1, Josh Pickering 1, Max Clegg 0)

Semi Final 2…
Ipswich Witches 18 (Rory Schlein 6, Justin Sedgmen 5, Cameron Heeps 4, Danny King 3)
Redcar Bears 13 (Charles Wright 5, Ben Barker 3, Jonas B Andersen 3, Jason Garrity 1, Ellis Perks 1)
Newcastle Diamonds 12 (Steve Worrall 6, Stuart Robson 3, Ludvig Lindgren 3, Ashley Morris 0)
Glasgow Tigers 9 (Richard Lawson 3, Aaron Summers 3, Nike Lunna 3, Dan Bewley 0)
Berwick Bandits 8 (Kevin Doolan 5, David Howe 2, Jye Etheridge 1, Dany Gappmaier 0, Luke Ruddick 0)

SGB Championship Fours Final…
Peterborough Panthers 28 (Chris Harris 9, Ulrich Ostergaard 9, Simon Lambert 5, Paul Starke 5)
Redcar Bears 18 (Charles Wright 7, Jason Garrity 6, Ben Barker 3, Jonas B Andersen 2)
Sheffield Tigers 16 (Kyle Howarth 6, Josh Grajczonek 5, Todd Kurtz 3, Josh Bates 2)
Ipswich Witches 10 (Danny King 6, Rory Schlein 2, Cameron Heeps 1, Justin Sedgmen 1)

London 2017: Bolt denied fairytale ending as Gatlin takes 100m title…

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Jamaican sprint superstar Usain Bolt has been denied a fairytale ending to his glittering athletics career at the World Athletics Championship in London.

Team USA’s Justin Gatlin stormed ahead of the field to snatch world 100m gold from Bolt, who could only manage bronze in his final individual race. Gatlin’s teammate Christian Coleman made a USA one-two.

Gatlin, who has twice been banned for doping offences, came through the field almost unnoticed in lane seven in a time of 9.92 seconds – two hundredths of a second faster than compatriot Coleman who clocked a time of 9.94.

Despite question over fitness and form, Bolt had still been favourite to secure the 20th global gold of his career.

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Greatest of all time: But Usain Bolt could only manage bronze in his final individual 100m race

2015 was supposed to be Gatlin’s year, when the American went to the World Championships in Beijing on the back of a 28-race unbeaten run.

Bolt produced a miracle to beat him that night in the Bird’s Nest, but he couldn’t provide the perfect ending to such a stellar career in the stadium where he won his Olympic 100m title in 2012.

His doping past making his a cartoon villian in his sport, double Olympic champion at the Athens games in 2004 Gatlin had been booed every time he took to his blocks in these championships.

He avoided a life ban after a second positive test in 2006 after co-operating with the authorities, instead accepting an eight year suspension that was then reduced to four on appeal.

That left him free to return to the track and he was to have his revenge, standing tall and putting a finger to his lips as the win stunned the crowd inside the London Stadium to initial silence.

However, this was a deserved victory – a last hurrah for a man that many athletes and fans within the sport wished no longer had the chance to compete.

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Disliked by the fans but Justin Gatlin is the new world 100m champion

A disastrous start for Bolt meant he was chasing the field right from the start. He has never previously lost a 100m final in a World Championships with the only blemish on his otherwise impeccable record being the false start in Daegu in 2011.

Despite the 21-year-old Coleman holding him off, Gatlin powered through in the last 15 metres as the great champion was left powerless.

From a British perspective, 21-year-old Reece Prescod was seventh in his first major championship final. However, this night will be remembered as much for the one who failed to win as the one who did.

The action continues tomorrow.

Boxing: Klitschko retirement means Joshua faces Oritz in WBA title defence…

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Anthony Joshua

British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua will now face Cuba’s Luis Oritz for the right to defend his world title, according to the WBA.

27-year old Joshua had been due to face Wladimir Klitschko in a rematch of his title win, but the Ukrainian announced his retirement from the sport on Thursday.

Both Joshua and Oritz now have 30 days to agree the fight and Joshua, who beat Klitschko at Wembley in April, has also now been told he must face IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev before December 2 or risk being stripped of his title.

Plans had been in place for Joshua to fight Klitschko in Las Vegas on November 11 and Oritz’s manager Jay Jimenez has said his fighter could fill the void.

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Joshua had been due to fight Wladimir Klitschko for the right to defend his title, however the Ukrainian announced his retirement on Thursday

Speaking to Boxingscene, Jimenez said: ‘We are next. We have no problem fighting on that date of November 11th in Las Vegas. Our mandatory takes precedent over Pulev’s and they know that.’

38-year-old Oritz has 23 knockouts from 27 wins, while Pulev, 36, has one defeat in 26 fights, with 13 stoppages.

Joshua currently holds two of the four major boxing title belts. New Zealand’s Joseph Parker holds the WBO belt, while American fighter Deontay Wilder is the WBC champion.

Football: EFL League One – Preview and Prediction…

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Three months without competitive, league football finally come to an end this weekend as SkyBet English Football League One action returns.

Optimism among fans, players and management has been renewed, pitches have been relaid, and squads have been rigorously revamped so all that’s needed is the football itself.

It is clear that it’s shaping up to be another exciting season in League One. England’s third tier is packing some serious talent this season, making the race for promotion rather interesting and intriguing. Not to mention the calibre of the sides who have dropped down from the Championship, including former Premier League side Blackburn Rovers and 2015/16 League One Champions Wigan Athletic!

New managers…
Wigan Athletic – Paul Cook replaces interim manager Graham Barrow
Portsmouth – Kenny Jackett replaces Paul Cook
Oxford United – Pep Clotet replaces Michael Appleton

Top five transfers…
1) Luke McGee – Tottenham Hotspur-Portsmouth – Undisclosed
2) Stephen Taylor – Ipswich Town-Peterborough United – Free
3) Kyle Dempsey – Huddersfield Town-Fleetwood Town – Undisclosed
4) Dean Bowditch – Milton Keynes Dons-Northampton Town – Free
5) Bradley Dack – Gillingham-Blackburn Rovers  – £750,000

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Former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor has signed for Peterborough United

Title odds…
Blackburn Rovers 4/1
Wigan Athletic 7/1
Portsmouth 9/1
Oxford United 12/1
MK Dons/Charlton Athletic 14/1

Relegation favourites…
Shrewsbury Town 5/4
Oldham Athletic 11/8
Blackpool 6/4
Gillingham 13/8
Walsall 5/2

*all odds supplied by SkyBet

Race for Automatic Promotion…
The League One promotion race will be an exciting one, with plenty of teams thinking they can make the all-important top two. Like with every season, the three relegated sides will be hoping that they can bounce straight back to the division above.

It is perhaps hard to overlook both Blackburn and Wigan as certain contenders for automatic promotion back to the Championship. However, the Ewood Park side find themselves in unfamiliar territory, having not played in England’s third tier for 37 years. Fans of the Lancashire club have seen the club’s plight as inevitable as a result of the well-documented ownership of the club by Venky’s who described the club’s relegation to League One as ‘a temporary setback’.

Keeping Danny Graham will be crucial to Rovers’ chance of promotion, however manager Tony Mowbray now possesses a strong midfield core having signed Peter Whittingham from Cardiff City,  the free-scoring Bradley Dack from Gillingham, Ben Gladwin from Queen’s Park Rangers and Richie Smallwood from Rotherham United.

While they’ve strengthened the midfield, Rovers appear to be lacking in the defensive area of the pitch. Goalkeeper David Raya Martin is the club’s current first-team keeper following Jason Steele’s departure, while Championship side Sheffield Wednesday are interested in Charlie Mulgrew.

Blackburn begin their campaign away ay at Southend United on Saturday (August 5).

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Keeping hold of Danny Graham will be the key to Blackburn’s title hopes

Wigan manager Paul Cook knows all about what it takes to achieve promotion after wining the SkyBet League Two title with Portsmouth last season. The Latics have been busy over the summer signing the likes of Chey Dunkley and Gavin Massey although potentially losing want-away striker Omar Bogle will maybe hurt them.

Wigan kick off their season with a trip to Milton Keynes on Saturday (August 5).

The race for the playoffs…
One team who will be happier than most to see a team promoted is Bradford City. The Bantams have been beaten by newly promoted Millwall in each of the past two League One play-off semi finals and were left heartbroken this time around courtesy of a Steve Morison goal five minutes from time at Wembley in May.

The 2017/18 season is the club’s fifth at this level and manager Stuart McCall’s main task is to get the squad looking forward to those dizzy heights again. However the task is made even more tricky by the departures of a number of key players such as Mark Marshall (now at Charlton) and defenders James Meredith, Stephen Darby and Rory McArdle, who have joined Millwall, Bolton and Scunthorpe respectively.

However, Bradford should still be play-off contenders again. They have a particularly strong home record at Valley Parade, having gone unbeaten at home last season, albeit with a large number of draws.

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Can Bradford City finally get that promotion?

Southend missed out on the play-offs by a single point last season, but could be in line to clinch a place this term. Manager Phil Brown is another in the league who has experience of winning promotion after taking the Shrimpers up from League Two in the 2014/15 playoffs and even took Hull into the Premier League way back in the 2007/08 season.

Up until now, they have so far managed to keep most of their squad intact and have also made a number of additions, with Michael Kightly, Stephen Hendrie and Michael Turner arriving at Roots Hall.

Milton Keynes Dons are another club out to better their position from last term. Despite losing seemingly key players in George Baldock and Nicky Maynard, manager Robbie Neilson has made some fantastic loan signings with Ethan Ebanks-Landell and Aaron Tshibola both arriving in Buckinghamshire.

Relegation Scrappers…
Gillingham survived the drop last season by the skin-of-the-teeth, and have now seen the departure of star striker Bradley Dack to Blackburn. Seemingly poor recruitment over the summer may mean that it will be tough for manager Ady Pennock to turn things around.

Like Gillingham, AFC Wimbledon have lost key players over the summer. Jake Reeves has joined Bradford, while Tom Elliot has signed for cross-city neighbours Millwall. The Wombles also failed to score in eight of their last none games last season and the way they start the season this time around will be the key to their survival.

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AFC Wimbledon frontman Tom Elliott has joined Championship newcomers Millwall

One club in the league who have a particularly low budget is Walsall. This means that they may have to punch above their weight to avoid the drop. There are also doubts among the clubs fans as to whether manger Jon Whitney is fully equipped to guide the club to survival.

Shrewsbury Town narrowly escaped the drop last season and despite conceding the fewest goals of any of the bottom seven clubs last term, goalkeeper Callum Burton’s move to Sky Bet Championship team Hull City could leave them vulnerable again.

Surprise Teams…
Portsmouth could be seen as surprise League One title contenders. Paul Cook’s former side now possess a manger who has experience of winning promotion from the league in the form of Kenny Jackett (promotion winner twice with both Millwall and Wolves). New additions Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Brett Pitman and Luke McGee all have invaluable experience of the league, with the latter having signed a permanent contract from Tottenham Hotspur after a loan spell with Peterborough United last term.

Despite ongoing unrest among the club’s fans last season which saw the club meander to a 13th-place finish, Charlton Athletic have been done shrewd business both on and off the pitch this summer. Manager Karl Robinson has brought in Lee Bowyer and club captain Johnnie Jackson into his coaching staff and has been organising his squad in preparation for his first full season at The Valley. He has also secured the season-long loan of Jay DaSilva from Chelsea, who impressed with the Addicks last term.

They have, however, lost Nicky Ajose who has joined Bury on loan. The Shakers are another surprise team this season. Despite losing top scorer James Vaughan to Championship newcomers Sunderland, they have a straightforward, ready-made replacement in the shape of Jermaine Beckford. Not only is Beckford a proven talent at this level, but manager Lee Clark also has a decent record in League One.

Peterborough United could also be dark horses in terms of the play-off fight this term. Like many other teams, The POSH have been busy in terms of recruitment, bringing in a range of different players to try and avoid yet another season in England’s third tier. They include free-scoring Ricky Miller from Dover Athletic and former Stockport County star Danny Lloyd. Fans can expect a good season if the gamble on these prolific non-league goalscorers pays off.

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New Peterborough United striker Ricky Miller in action for Dover against Cambridge United

Projected final table…
1) Blackburn Rovers
2) Wigan Athletic
3) Portsmouth
4) Bradford City
5) Fleetwood Town
6) Peterborough United
7) Doncaster Rovers
8) Scunthorpe United
9) Northampton Town
10) Milton Keynes Dons
11) Bury
12) Charlton Athletic
13) Oxford United
14) Rochdale
15) Bristol Rovers
16) Southend United
17) Rotherham United
18) Plymouth Argyle
19) Blackpool
20) Shrewsbury Town
21) Gillingham
22) AFC Wimbledon
23)  Walsall
24) Oldham Athletic

Players to watch…
Danny Graham (Blackburn Rovers)
Striker Danny Graham is a proven goalscorer not only in League One but higher levels of the Football League too. He will surely be favourite to take the league’s top scorer award.

Will Grigg (Wigan Athletic)
Once the subject of the infamous ‘Will Grigg’s on fire’ chant, League One defences may still be slightly fearful of the Wigan striker. Grigg may have only scored seven goals for the Latics last season, but his record at this level is far better, having netted 28 times during the club’s 2015/16 title winning season.

Ricky Miller (Peterborough United)
Despite being banned for the first six matches of the campaign, Peterborough striker Ricky Miller could be another player to watch this term. The free scoring, former Dover Athletic forward netted 42 times in 43 games last season and was crowned the National League’s Player of the Year. He also has previous League experience when at Luton Town.

Speedway GP: Janowski becomes first Pole to win in Cardiff…

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British SGP podium (l-r): Championship leader Jason Doyle, meeting winner Maciej Janowski, Matej Zagar

Polish racer Maciej Janowski secured back-to-back FIM Speedway Grand Prix wins with victory in the Adrian Flux British FIM Speedway Grand Prix on Saturday.

Janowski followed up his Kjægaard Danish SGP success by storming to victory at the Principality Stadium ahead of Championship leader Jason Doyle, Matej Zagar and fellow countryman Bartosz Zmarzlik.

The win for Janowski also saw him become Poland’s first winner of the prestigious event.

Doyle, on 78 points, now has a three point lead at the top of the overall standings, while Janowski overhauled compatriot Patryk Dudek into second place by virtue of his 2016 standing, with the pair tied on 75 points apiece.

At the halfway point, the top three are setting a blistering pace, with Janowski and Dudek holding a 17-point advantage over fourth placed Fredrik Lindgren.

However, the Wrocław-born racer knows there is still much work to do, despite firing himself firmly into the title picture.

He said: ‘I think we’ll all try and win it. But we still have six rounds to finish.

‘Maybe someone else will fight for the gold in the end? All I know is I’m working hard at the moment and I’ll work even harder.

‘We’ll see what happens next. We all know how it is in speedway. We can be so confident, but I need to stay focused and keep working hard. For now everything works. I need to keep that up and work a bit harder.’

He was also delighted to become the first Pole to win in the Welsh capital. He said: ‘That is very special for me. There were a lot of Polish fans and it was crazy. They all supported me a lot and I got a lot of calls before the meeting. I will probably get a lot of messages now.

“Every win is special, so I am happy and I just want to say thank you to my team. We put in so much work and we all know how hard it is in the Grand Prix this year.’

Janowski then revealed he took a huge chance with his bike setup to ensure he got the better of fellow Pole Zmarzlik, who topped the qualifying chart on 13 points and won his semi-final, but dropped a chain when third in the all-important final.

He said: ‘For the last heat, this will be a surprise for a lot of people but we changed the setup big-time. I knew Bartek was on gate one and he would make a really good start. I knew I needed to do something. We tried and it worked, so I am happy.’

Meanwhile, Championship leader Doyle was glad of another podium finish after scoring just a point in his first ride and crashing in the next.

He said: ‘Apart from Horsens, I’ve started a couple of GPs not very well and I have really been digging deep. After the first couple of rides, I barely had any points and had to do it the hard way.

“I snuck into the semis again and fair play to Magic and Zagar. They were also good tonight. They had all the lines sorted out.

‘I’m really happy with performance. I did it for everyone watching in my box. I thought I’d be sitting out of the semis, so I’m very happy with where I ended up.’

He was also delighted to extend his lead at the top of the standings to three points, but admitted there is still a long way to go.

He said: ‘There are another six GPs. It doesn’t matter where you stand at the moment.

‘You just need to bang those points in and see where you stand at the end of the season. We’re all going to be pushing hard – it’s the GPs. It’s tough racing.’

Third-placed Matej Zagar was pleased to put his season firmly back on track with a 12-point haul that places him ninth in the standings – one point off the top eight and 10 points away from fourth.

He said: ‘It’s very tough out there and you have to get everything right to be successful. I’m in a much better position now than I was at the beginning of the season. I’m pleased with that. I would just like to say the future is bright!’

Current world champion Greg Hancock withdrew from the meeting after heat one, after initially dislocating his shoulder after falling down the stairs at home in Sweden. He was unable to continue after re-dislocating it during Friday’s practice and on the first lap of heat one.

Next up for the SGP elite is the Teng Tools Swedish SGP in Malilla on August 12.

ADRIAN FLUX BRITISH SGP: Maciej Janowski 17, Jason Doyle 13, Matej Zagar 12, Bartosz Zmarzlik 16, Emil Sayfutdinov 11, Peter Kildemand 10, Patryk Dudek 10, Chris Holder 10, Tai Woffinden 9, Niels-Kristian Iversen 7, Fredrik Lindgren 7, Antonio Lindback 7, Martin Vaculik 4, Josh Bates 2, Craig Cook 2, Piotr Pawlicki 1, Adam Ellis 0, Greg Hancock 0.

FIM SPEEDWAY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after 6 rounds): 1 Jason Doyle 78, 2 Maciej Janowski 75, 3 Patryk Dudek 75, 4 Fredrik Lindgren 58, 5 Emil Sayfutdinov 58, 6 Tai Woffinden 57, 7 Bartosz Zmarzlik 55, 8 Martin Vaculik 49, 9 Matej Zagar 48, 10 Greg Hancock 45, 11 Chris Holder 44, 12 Piotr Pawlicki 44, 13 Niels-Kristian Iversen 38, 14 Antonio Lindback 36, 15 Peter Kildemand 22, 16 Vaclav Milik 13, 17 Nicki Pedersen 8, 18 Maksims Bogdanovs 8, 19 Kenneth Bjerre 7, 20 Przemyslaw Pawlicki 3, 21 Craig Cook 2, 22 Josh Bates 2, Nick Skorja 1.