NFL heads to Twitter Spaces to produce content for the 2021 season

The NFL is taking to Twitter Spaces to talk football throughout the 2021 season and beyond.

“The commitment to Twitter Spaces represents another innovative step forward in the longstanding partnership between the NFL and Twitter,” said Blake Stuchin, the NFL’s vice president of digital media business development. “We’re excited to bring NFL fans a new way to engage with live audio ahead of our biggest events of the year and every week throughout the NFL season.”

The news comes on the heels of the NFL’s previous partnership with the Twitter Spaces rival Clubhouse, which saw the league host live audio content on the platform during the 2021 NFL draft in May. Moving forward, the league says to expect to see live audio content like that, including during upcoming drafts, exclusively on Twitter Spaces.

Jake Paul grabs Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s hat, and the memes break loose

Stupid thing to do to the former boxing champ, but the memes and jokes are cap-tivating.

That’s Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Logan Paul, but it was the other Paul brother, Jake, that stole the hat.

A planned stunt? Just another Jake Paul stupid decision? Sure seems scripted, since Paul was quick to try and capitalize by selling black baseball caps that read, “gotcha hat.” No one buy them, please?

“You guys think wrasslin is real, too,” wrote one Twitter user.

Said another, “All planned to build the hype.”

Social-media users had fun with it regardless.

We’re likely to see plenty more stuntage before the June 6 fight. Stay tuned.

Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley memes: Light-up trunks, Dude Wipes, that tattoo

Tyron Woodley agreed to get the “I Love Jake Paul” tattoo as long as Paul gives him a rematch, so stay tuned.

Jake Paul is 4-0 after defeating Tyron Woodley on Aug. 29.

As you may have heard, the fighters made a pre-fight bet. The loser gets a tattoo proclaiming their love for the winner. After the fight, Paul told Woodley that he’ll give him a rematch if Woodley follows through on the “I love Jake Paul” tattoo. Huh? Didn’t Woodley already agree to get the tattoo, rematch or no? Anyway, they shook on it, so… round two, anyone?

The tattoo made its way into a bunch of memes, one of which jokes about “Tyron Woodley ducking Jake Paul’s tattoo artist at the venue.”

Boxing trunks aren’t just clothing any more. Paul wore trunks decorated with LED lights, and you just know people had thoughts on that.

Cracked one Twitter user, “Are they going to light up when he’s hit like the outfits in fencing and score a point for Woodley?”

Said another, “Good because soon it’s lights out for him anyways.”

Woodley may not have had LED light-up trunks, but he did have the name of a flushable personal hygiene wipe — Dude Wipes — right across the butt of his own trunks.

The company crowed about it even when Woodley lost, tweeting a little bathroom humor with “Great Fight. We want a #2.:

Paul dominated for the first few rounds, but Woodley started to come back around round 4. And when Paul took a big punch and hit the ropes, social media hit back. Let’s just say people like to see Paul get punched.

“Woodley got to punch Jake Paul in his face multiple times,” wrote one Twitter user. “Win or lose thats a huge W!”

Said another, “Paul won the fight but Woodley had the most significant punch and round of the fight.”

And it wouldn’t be a fight involving one of the Paul brothers if people weren’t declaring that the fix was in.

“The Jake Paul vs Tyron Woodley fight was rigged,” wrote one Twitter user. “Jake nearly died from one punch.”

Said another, “Woodley had Paul seeing stars in round four and came out in round five and didn’t even try to throw a punch. This was a complete set up to try to make Paul seem legit. Now he will fight Fury, who isn’t a real boxer either.”

Paul said after the fight that he might take a break for a while, but fans are already calling for him to fight Tommy Fury, the brother of current heavyweight king Tyson Fury, who easily won his fight on Sunday against Anthony Taylor.

Jake Paul beats Tyron Woodley in split decision: Round-to-round fight coverage

Is the rematch on?

Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley is live!

See below for our round-by-round coverage of the fight.

Jake Paul at the press conference earlier this week.

And we’re off. Woodley swings wild to open. Is now trying to walk Paul down, but the size difference is noticeable. Paul is trying to lead with the jab and is doing so effectively. Woodley seems a little frozen and struggling with the range. Paul on the other hand is getting comfy in there.

Our score: 10-9 Paul

Paul lands with a big right to open, but Woodley is trying to cut him off. Paul is not having it. Low activity round so far and Woodley is biting too hard on the feints. Not much happening here and Woodley is down another round.

Our score: 10-9 Paul

Already a better round for Woodley but Paul comes back. Woodley is trying to get inside and gets countered for it. Paul is looking good so far, this could be a long night for Woodley.

Our score: 10-9 Paul

Paul’s punches looking a little less discipled now. Tyron seems like he can get inside better now and is landing the better shots.

Woodley lands a big shot and Paul is rocked. He almost goes down and desperately tries to recover. He makes it out of the round but man… Now we have a fight!

Our score: 10-9 Woodley

Paul looks very tired now and this could be a big problem because Woodley is just getting started. This could be an interesting final three rounds. Woodley should be pressing but he’s slowing down here. Still, this is Woodley’s round.

Our score: 10-9 Woodley

Paul seems to have regained a bit of steam here, landing shots on Woodley and getting his combinations going. Woodley has slowed down and seems to be chasing a one shot kill. This is anyone’s round to steal, but in the end it looks like Paul took it.

Our score: 10-9 Paul

Woodley’s corner is urgent. It appears they know they need a KO at this point. He comes out more aggressive but it doesn’t take much to put him back in his shell. But Paul’s punches are sloppy and surely Woodley could counter here. 

Paul looks tired but Woodley simply isn’t doing enough here.

Our score: 10-9 Woodley

Final round and surely Woodley needs a stoppage here. He comes out with some tight offence and lands some shorts, but it’s not enough. Paul can easily cruise to a victory here. Woodley is pot-shotting now when he really needs something definitive. 

In the end he wins the round on my scorecard, but he has almost certainly lost the fight.

Our score: 10-9 Woodley

Jake Paul wins by split decision

Amanda Serrano, one of the pound-for-pound best female boxers on the planet.

Our co-main event is the sole women’s fight on the card.

Amanda Serrano, the champion, is the overwhelming favourite in this contest. Yamileth Mercado hasn’t been given much of a chance by oddsmakers here, but this is boxing and anything can happen.

But Serrano is one of the best female boxers ever. She hasn’t lost in over 10 years and I can’t imagine her losing here.

Okay here we go. This could be a real showcase for Serrano. Can’t wait to see what she can do in this spotlight.

Serrano comes out super aggressive, huge volume early. But she gets a little stung by a great shot from Mercado. Doesn’t appear to phase her though. Quite a tight round all up.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Mercado isn’t exactly out of her depth in this fight, but she is losing. Serrano is marching forward and landing heavy shots, Mercado is landing a few here and there, but Serrano takes the round.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Fantastic exchanges here with Mercado and Serrano trading blows. Mercado has a chin on her, but she’s also landing here. This fight is being fought at a tremendous pace.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Serrano is slowing the pace down here and pot shotting her jab a little more. She’s managed to catch Mercado coming in a few times. Nice round from Serrano, but Mercado maybe stole the round at the end there with a flurry.

Our score: 10-9 Mercado

These rounds are rattling in, with the two minute rounds. Mercado has earned Serrano’s respect. Serrano isn’t just running in for knockout shots, she’s trying to out-box Mercado and it’s working. Great shots at the end of the round there.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Serrano boxing well from the outside, but Mercado landed one helluva body shot. In fact both women are landing to the body frequently. Serrano is really finding her range here and looked to have hurt Mercado at one point.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Serrano is looking really sharp now. Completely taking over the fight with her jab. This feels like Serrano’s most comfortable round.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Mercado is making this more of a dogfight, digging some real body shots at close range. This is a different type of fight. A much closer round, but Serrano still takes it.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Mercado is hanging in here. She’s done a great job in this fight. But Serrano is walking Mercado down now, landing huge body shots. She’s teeing off on Mercado now. Serrano’s best round yet.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Last round. Both fighters appear keen to leave it all on the canvas here. Serrano stings Mercado badly and she looks hurt. Mercando is hanging on by a thread here it seems but she survives. Great finish to a great fight.

Our score: 10-9 Serrano

Serrano wins 97-93, 98-92, 99-91 via unanimous decision.

The up-and-coming heavyweight Daniel Dubois.

This is a heavyweight fight between two well tested fighters with solid record. Daniel Dubois is the current WBA interim heavyweight champ. His only loss came at the hands of Joe Joyce last year. Joe Cusumano is a more experienced fighter. At 33 he’s 10 years the senior of the 23 year old Dubois.

These are some big boys. 

Blam! Cusumano goes down early after a series of hard shots from Dubois. He’s back up and ooft, they’re swinging. Cusumano goes down again, then for a THIRD time and it’s all over in round 1. 

Damn, this Dubois guy can hit. That was a wild, wild round of boxing.

Daniel Dubois win via TKO in the first round.

Ivan Baranchyk during an open workout.

This should be a good one. A well matched fight between two up-and-comers. Baranchyk is ranked the fourth best active light-welterweight in the world by The Ring, Love is still undefeated. This should be a high level scrap.

Baranchyk is the aggressor early feinting Love to the ropes with jabs, but Love lands with a straight down the pipe. Love started to loosen up in the second half of the round with slick defence and sharp shots. Baranchyk landed heavy in the last 30 seconds. 

Tough one to call.

Our score: 10-9 Love

Baranchyk come out more aggressive in the opening seconds, but Love is landing. A couple of nice body shots and a great uppercut. Also the check hook is money for Love, he’s landing it over and over. He’s taking over this fight.

Our score: 10-9 Love

Again Baranchyk comes out with urgency, but he’s missing big against Love. Just great footwork. He has gotten caught a couple of time though. 

And whoa… Baranchyk unloads. He’s stunned Love but he manages to stay on his feet. Baranchyk is going hard now, this is clearly his round. Huge moment. Massive flurry at the end there and Love catches Baranchyk clean with a wild hook that almost floors him. Wow. What a round.

Our score: 10-9 Baranchyk

Baranchyk is just clipping Love now. The shots Love was evading now seem more dangerous. Love is standing his ground more now, though and is outlanding Baranchyk. Great round for Love who appears to stun Baranchyk and then pauses to admire the shot.

Our score: 10-9 Love

Love’s check hook can’t miss at this point. His counters are sharp and Baranchyk is struggling. He’s still marching forward though — this is a great fight.

Just when Love seemed to be landing at will, Baranchyk landed clean and hard. Man this fight rules.

Our score: 10-9 Love

A much quieter round in the first minute. Love getting the best of the exchanges so far, with guard splitting straights. Love appears to have recovered just fine from that big shot at the end of the fifth round.

Our score: 10-9 Love

Love smells blood here, he’s marching forward for the first time in the fight, wailing on Baranchyk. Love is just too slick for Baranchyk, whose punches have lost a bit of sting. Baranchyk misses a massive shot and falls over. He needs a knockout now you suspect.

Whoa, an incredible counter shot sends Baranchyk to the floor right at the end of the round. Incredibly clean shot.

Our score: 10-8 Love

And Baranchyk’s corner waves it off. The fight is over. Montana Love takes it by TKO.

Yes, he’s related to Tyson Fury.

Tommy Fury is the brother of current heavyweight king Tyson Fury. He’s a lot younger, a lot more handsome and he’s currently unbeaten with six wins. Anthony Taylor’s record isn’t quite as inspiring with seven wins and five losses… in MMA. Also this fight was changed from a six round contest to a four round fight at the last minute.

Let’s see how this one plays out. Many are saying Fury is next for Jake Paul if he gets past Tyron Woodley and he’s a dramatic, overwhelming favourite for this one.

Man, the height and size difference here is pretty intense. Fury looks like he’s getting quite the layup here. 

Fury is leading with a sharp jab and quickly lands heavy to the body. Taylor walked into a sharp uppercut and is slowly starting to get lit up here. The uppercut seems like a good shot for Fury and Taylor is swinging wild.

Our score: 10-9 Fury

Well the predicted round 1 KO didn’t happen.

Fury is landing with sharp punches, but the old MMA style overhand right is there for Taylor, who is getting outworked here. He’s running out steam and energy. He survives the 2nd round, but hard to imagine him surviving this fight.

Our score: 10-9 Fury

Taylor is spirited here and comes out aggressive. He slips early, but it’s not ruled a knockdown. Fury is going hard to the body here, which is smart because he’s struggling to find the head. This is probably Taylor’s best round but he’s still getting pieced up here. 

Our score: 10-9 Fury

Well, maybe this will go the distance!

If Fury doesn’t get the knockout here, or at the very least a knockdown, it’s not a good look for him. He lands a few big shots, but Taylor clinches and survives. 

Taylor makes it to the bell as the crowd boos.

Our score: 10-9 Fury

Fury wins by decision 40-36 on all scorecards

NBA streaming: How to watch the end of the regular season without cable

When it comes to following the NBA season, you’ll need a TV service with at least ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. We compare AT&T TV, YouTube TV, FuboTV and more to find out which service is the best for basketball fans.

Kevin Durant, left, and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets high five during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

While it’s not as simple as it should be, we’re going to try and make it a bit easier. Here are our recommendations for the best ways to watch the rest of the NBA season, as well as the play-in and playoffs, without cable.

Read more: YouTube TV vs. Hulu vs. Sling TV vs. Philo vs. FuboTV: 100 channels compared

When it comes to streaming all your local basketball games, the $85-a-month Choice package on AT&T TV is the best option for most people. It has all of the national channels — ABC, ESPN, NBA TV and TNT — and it’s the streaming service with the most regional sports networks.

Unlike the NFL, which largely broadcasts its local games on Fox or CBS (with primetime games on NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network) most NBA games air on a local sports network. For the Knicks in New York it’s MSG, for the Lakers in Los Angeles it’s Spectrum SportsNet and for the Bucks in Milwaukee it’s Bally Sports Wisconsin (formerly Fox Sports). The problem is that your local RSN probably isn’t carried by every live TV streaming service.

At $85 a month for the Choice package, AT&T TV is far from cheap, and for some it could be pricier than getting a traditional cable package bundled in with your home internet — especially since, as with every such service, you’ll need home internet to watch it anyway.

That said, it is another alternative that gives you a way to watch your home team’s RSN. In the New York area it’s the only provider that carries both MSG (Knicks) and the YES Network (Brooklyn Nets); in Los Angeles it has Spectrum Sportsnet for the Lakers and Bally Sports SoCal (formerly Fox Sports Prime Ticket) for the Clippers; and in Milwaukee it offers Bally Sports Wisconsin (Bucks).

AT&T TV also has some of the Comcast-owned RSNs, including (Celtics) and Bay Area (Warriors). You can check if your sports network is available in your ZIP code here.

Like with YouTube TV, FuboTV and others there is no contract required for AT&T TV, and you no longer need any special boxes or equipment. You can have streams running on up to three devices at once, with AT&T TV apps available on iOS, iPad OS and Android phones and tablets as well as Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs. The telecom giant also sells an Android TV-powered streaming box.

AT&T includes 20 hours of DVR and bundles in a year of HBO Max with the purchase of the AT&T TV Choice package, the latter of which is normally $15 a month. As part of a promotion, the carrier is also currently throwing in a subscription to NBA League Pass Premium, the league’s service that lets you watch all out-of-market games, for the remainder of the season as an added perk for those who sign up for its Choice or Ultimate packages.

If you want the free League Pass for the remainder of the season, you’ll need to sign up before May 2.

YouTube TV is the pick for those willing to sacrifice their local sports network.

The second-best option for NBA fans is YouTube TV. At $65 a month, a regular YouTube TV subscription checks many of the NBA channel boxes including having all of the major stations — ABC, ESPN and TNT — as well as NBA TV. The problem? It lacks most RSNs, though it does have the NBC Sports-owned ones in some areas.

The play-in games will air on TNT and ESPN while the NBA playoffs will air on those channels plus ABC.

YouTube TV allows three simultaneous streams, with YouTube offering unlimited cloud DVR. It’s widely available, too, with apps on iOS and Android, the web and on TVs through Roku, Chromecast, Android TV, Apple TV and Fire TV.

Other options like FuboTV’s Family plan or Hulu with Live TV are fine, but they involve compromises. Fubo has some regional networks like MSG in New York, but it lacks TNT and requires an $11-a-month Extra add-on to get NBA TV, making the total price $76 a month.

Hulu with Live TV, which now also costs $65 a month, similarly has some regional channels, particularly the NBC Sports-owned ones, as well as TNT, ESPN and ABC. But it lacks NBA TV and the regional sports channels owned by Charter (Spectrum Sportsnet) and Sinclair (the Bally Sports networks and YES Network).

Sling TV’s Orange plan for $35 a month gets you ESPN and TNT, but you lose out on ABC and RSNs, and you’ll need to pay an extra $15 a month to get NBA TV as part of its Sports Extra add-on. You do get 50 hours of DVR but can only stream on one device at a time.

The chart below sums it all up. The base price is listed after the service name, while a dollar sign indicates that the channel is available for an additional fee. For simplicity, we did not include the RSNs as those will vary by ZIP code.

NBA League Pass offers the entire NBA slate for $199 for the season, with commercials and one device, or $249 for the season with in-arena feeds instead of commercials, and the ability to watch on two devices at once. Those interested in following only a single team can buy a Team Pass for $119 for the season.

While this is an enticing option for fans who want to watch-out-of-market games for the 2020-21 season, it doesn’t help with rooting for your home team. Local games as well as those broadcast nationally are blacked out, so if you’re in New York and want to watch Kevin Durant and the Nets take on the Warriors on ABC it won’t be accessible on League Pass.

With the 72-game regular season nearing its end, the league has dropped the price for the remainder of the season to $29 for the base package or $40 for the Premium service that allows for watching on two devices at once with the in-arena feeds. The Team Pass pricing has been reduced to $18. There are also new three-day free trials for the base League Pass package as well as the Team Pass option.

NBA TV remains a separate add-on but now runs an extra $20 (down from $60 at the start of the season) if you want to be able to watch games on that network.

With one weekend left in the regular season and playoff games on national television, you’re likely best skipping this route and going with one of the above providers instead.

Read more: Best soundbars for 2021

Before the billionaires and oligarchs, the unlikely story of football’s first foreign owner

Way before international money flooded in, the first American owner in English soccer came to the rescue of a dying club.

Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. It was the beginning of a new era — but you wouldn’t have known it at the time.

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, a former footballer turned businessman who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama, only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s 1970s heyday, so Bracewell was surprised when Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

Why would a Californian lawyer want to invest in an impoverished sports team on the far side of the Atlantic?

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” says Osterman, now in his late 70s. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”

Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a brief ferry ride away from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Barely clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognize the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who played and worked at Tranmere.

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular. English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Jozef Vengloš arrived from Czechoslovakia to join Aston Villa in 1990.

Having staved off the club’s short-term woes, Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman made the unexpected choice to appoint Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Worthington, who died in March 2021, had two decades of experience on the field but had never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington joked that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

In his first game before the Prenton Park faithful the dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. Unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as he trained to be an accountant.

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

One day Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice. They wanted to push Osterman out. The surprised player found himself in the awkward situation of offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on his team shirt and running onto the pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios who bought the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited changes to insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. To ensure survival they had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kickoff was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to see if he could help out in the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch.

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even leaving Prenton Park (an idea that backfired for Osterman). Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers in 2019 shows how precarious the football business can be even with TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019 (only to be summarily relegated again when the Covid pandemic ended the next season early).

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure. And for Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”

How 5G played a role in the Phoenix Suns’ historic NBA title run

The wireless technology gave the team an edge when it came to crunching the data on its players to find ways for them to improve.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker during the 2021 NBA playoffs.

The new tools helped general manager James Jones and the rest of the coaching staff better evaluate player performance and adapt in real time. Ryan Resh, the Suns’ head of data analytics, credits 5G with “pushing the NBA’s boundaries” regarding how the coaches train and teach their athletes.

The Suns’ use of 5G is an example of one of the many different applications of the wireless technology beyond higher speeds on your phone. The technology, rolling out across the globe, is expected to transform many industries, including sports. Professional and college teams are installing 5G in stadiums and arenas to improve the on-site experience, and apps are emerging that let fans view replays from different angles or feel like they’re a part of the action. Teams are exploring ways to use 5G to improve the performance of the athletes themselves by quickly collecting huge amounts of data — something that isn’t possible with 4G or Wi-Fi.

“5G is allowing us to … take those movements and those analyses and make them so real-time that the process just becomes iterative and seamlessly flows into the working procedure of our coaches and our players,” Resh said in an interview.

While sports teams have been using analytics to improve player performance nearly as long as sports have existed, 5G is emerging as a new way to make that analysis even more effective. The key is the technology’s high speed and low latency. Cameras and sensors can collect data and provide insight in real time, letting coaches instruct their players on the fly or detect injuries before they become bigger problems. For the Suns, the intersection between 5G and athletics made its mark this NBA season.

“The 5G lab keeps the Suns on the cutting edge,” Jones said in a statement. “That cohesion provides our staff with unparalleled opportunities to efficiently unlock each athlete’s fullest potential.”

The need for real-time data is becoming more and more important in sports. Prior to the rollout of 5G and installation of sensors and cameras in arenas, players were used to waiting until the next day to review film highlighting in-game mistakes. While players and coaches still review film after games, the 5G lab offers data within milliseconds — something that once took several minutes to calculate.

“Coaching has been around for thousands of years, where coaches go out there and with their gut, they watch things,” Brian Mecum, vice president of device technology for Verizon, said in an interview. “Well, how about if we trust data, and how about if we flip it and trust what science is telling us by what it can measure?”

While Verizon is building 5G in more than 60 stadiums and arenas, its partnership with the Phoenix Suns is different. No other team working with Verizon uses 5G to help with real-time analytics.

5G helps the Suns coaching staff quickly gather and crunch data from three different tools. With a technology called Noah, the players are able to get real-time feedback, live and automated in-game data, and in-depth post-practice and game analytics. For instance, the practice center’s hoop is equipped with sensors that allow Noah to track the arch consistency, the depth and the left and right trajectory of the ball. Coaches will be able to compare subpar performance against a player’s peak, letting them know instantly what places or situations on a court have the best odds for sinking a shot.

“It gets down to centimeter accuracy, and it also has the ability to look at things in three dimensions [along] the X, the Y and the Z axis,” Verizon’s Mecum said. A player may not be able to tell in real time why their shots aren’t going in without the in-depth arc and angle analysis Noah provides.

“This team took and learned that sometimes players were spending too much time shooting, for example, they were taking too many shots and that was affecting the effectiveness of their shots,” Mecum said.

Adding Noah to the Sun’s practice facility has shown real results for the team. One younger player had a tough time consistently sinking his shots. With Noah and the tracking sensors installed in the rafters above the hoop, the coaching staff was able to show the player where his jump shots typically landed and where his performance was the weakest.

“That was enlightening to him because it allowed him to accept that his mechanics may not be as consistent as he wants them to be, which is not something that you really feel, in real time,” Resh said. “His work did eventually pay off in the playoffs, and he was our best three-point shooter.”

Another analytics source used by the Suns is called ShotTracker. Players and coaches are able to use a sensor-based system that generates shooting analytics stats to teams — and fans — thanks to a sensor placed on the ball. Players must also wear a small tracking device, and there are sensors in the rafters above the rim to pinpoint the location of the shot. Specifically, more than 100 sensors communicate to the coaches in real time what players are doing (or not). This allows both players and coaches to go back and review how many shots were taken and exactly where they were shot.

The final piece of the Suns’ technology expansion relates to lateral movement off the court. With the help of Simi’s motion capture cameras, coaches are able to track players’ abilities both before and after injuries. A returning player may feel they are back to normal, but coaches are able to see in real time if the player is healed or not by comparing the post-injury performance to the player’s baseline. The Suns are using Simi in the weight room to track static movements — but have hopes to one day use Simi to predict how players move on the court.

In the practice facilities, the Suns’ are also using Bertec’s 3D force plates in combination with Simi’s cameras. The Bertec plates, which players stand on, are able to track a player’s gait, jump and balance while Simi captures the movement in real time. Simi shows the coaches, the movement, while the Bertec plates provide data about pressure and other characteristics.

“While Wi-Fi can accomplish that, what 5G does is it makes it so fast [and] the latency is so low, that as soon as a player is done jumping, [the data is] there in front of them,” Resh said

Latency is the response or lag time between sending a signal and receiving one back, and 5G’s shorter latency is how it makes a difference in sports analytics.

“You want to reduce the delay as much as you can to give [people] real-time experiences,” said Technalysis Research analyst Bob O’Donnell. “Every little bit helps.”

3G networks had latencies in the hundreds of milliseconds, which is an appreciable fraction of a second. 4G networks, which enabled smartphones and all of the apps we use today, started with latencies of about 100 milliseconds and now are down to a range of about 30 milliseconds to 70 milliseconds. 5G aims to get to 1 millisecond, but it’s currently at about 20 milliseconds to 30 milliseconds, which is faster than the human eye blinks, Verizon’s Mecum said.

Fans are able to view a game from multiple camera angles.

An essential piece of the Suns’ practice facilities and arena is their use of millimeter wave 5G. MmWave is a band of radio airwaves that provides super-high speeds but can only travel short distances and gets blocked by objects like windows and trees. For sporting venues, though, those downsides aren’t an issue. Teams can easily install towers where needed in stadiums and arenas. MmWave’s ability to handle a huge number of devices on one network, at the same time, is ideal for fans during a game.

With the Suns’ stadium app, fans are able to receive feedback similar to what the coaches see while watching the game. The app is available to users with or without 5G phones. Seven different camera angles let fans view replays and real-time stats on the players. The app is available both in the stadium and at home. “You can go back and look at replays, and you’re in control instead of waiting for the jumbotron,” Mecum said.

Suns’ players and coaches are also able to get real-time feedback that lets them make live adjustments. The speeds needed to interpret this data captured during the Suns’ practice is only available over 5G, the coaching staff says. Neither Wi-Fi nor 4G can produce the results as quickly.

For now, the Suns are only using real-time analysis over 5G in the team’s practice facility. The NBA has strict guidelines surrounding what data collection is available in-game and doesn’t allow the kind of analysis the Suns perform in the practice facility.

The Suns aren’t the only ones interested in the numbers. Sports analytics bridges the gap between team stats and interpretation. When teams crunch data, the goal is almost always to figure out where performance fell short. After establishing areas in need of improvement, teams can optimize practice time using the data found from analytics. It’s a big business — the global sports analytics market size is expected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2019 to $5.2 billion by 2024, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets.

“When you are a professional athlete, standing on your feet just moving around a basketball court is actually considered work,” Resh said. “When you don’t have a ton of time to practice, you have to make your practices as efficient as possible.”

As the intersection between sports and analytics continues to grow, there is a need for 5G and real-time data, said Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin. Many sporting venues are incorporating 5G and mmWave to receive feedback as quickly as possible.

Perhaps the best-known example of sports analytics was captured in the 2011 film Moneyball. The movie, based on the Oakland Athletics baseball team, explained how analysis and statistics alone could lead to victories.

Brad Pitt played then-A’s general manager Billy Beane, who put together a winning team utilizing analytics and minimal funding. He studied sabermetrics, “the objective knowledge about baseball,” to rebuild the team on a low budget. Through studying these analytics, he led his team to a 20-game winning streak, the longest one in franchise history.

While the Suns can use 5G to track performance in the practice arena, the coaches aren’t able to do such analysis in the arena. Instead, Second Spectrum exclusively partners with the NBA, as well as soccer’s Premier League and Major League Soccer, to provide in-game player tracking.

After an initial response, Second Spectrum didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Players, coaches and fans can use Second Spectrum to access years of game history and find game playbacks within seconds. The company uses machine learning and computer vision to form a tracking system. It’s able to collect 3D data live from cameras within the arenas and then generate reports showing player location, player stats and the type of play in progress.

Even though the Suns didn’t come out on top this season, the conversation around what 5G has provided is just beginning.

“That real-time feedback is what we found to be the best method of teaching and learning for our players and for our coaches,” Resh said.

CNET’s Shara Tibken contributed to this report.

Correction, 11:19 a.m. PT: This story initially misstated the Phoenix Suns’ history with the NBA Finals. The team has made it three times, in 1976, 1993 and 2021, losing each time four games to two.

Just 2 months ahead of Olympics, US issues do-not-travel advisory for Japan

Team USA says it’s “confident” it can safely compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The US has issued an advisory against travel to Japan.

Read more: The Tokyo Olympics: Will the games be canceled, expected start date, full schedule

Team USA said it’s aware of the updated travel advisory, but is “confident” it can safely compete this summer.

“We feel confident that the current mitigation practices in place for athletes and staff by both the USOPC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee, coupled with the testing before travel, on arrival in Japan and during games time, will allow for safe participation of Team USA,” the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in an emailed statement.

Last month, the US issued Level 4: Do Not Travel advisories for around 80% of all nations. The travel advisories were updated to reflect the CDC’s COVID-19 health notices about other countries. Japan was initially left off the Level 4 warning list, but was added Monday.

Read more: Vaccine passports for COVID-19: How they’ll be a part of global travel

NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Stream Canadiens vs. Lightning Game 5 live tonight

If they win, the Lightning will become the NHL Champions for a second straight year. The game streams on NBC and Peacock, no cable required.

Brett Kulak and the Montreal Canadiens (right) hope to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 tonight.

Read more: NBA Finals 2021: How to watch, stream Bucks vs. Suns without cable

The Lightning has the home-ice advantage by virtue of finishing the regular season with a better record than the Canadiens. The series opened in Tampa Bay for the first two games, Games 3 and 4 took place in Montreal and afterward home ice alternates every game. Here’s the full remaining schedule:

*If necessary.

You don’t need cable or satellite TV to watch the action on the ice. The most affordable streaming option is NBC’s Peacock service, which will carry the entire series live. Peacock’s basic tier is free, but to watch the Stanley Cup Finals you’ll need to subscribe to the Premium version starting at $5 per month.

The remainder of the series will also be carried on NBC, which is available on most major live TV streaming services. The catch is that not every service carries every local network, so check each one using the links below to make sure it carries NBC in your area.

If you live in an area with good reception, you can watch the games on NBC for free on over-the-air broadcast channels just by attaching an affordable (under $30) indoor antenna to nearly any TV.

Peacock offers three tiers: a limited free plan and two Premium plans. The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium plan costs $10 a month. You need one of the Premium plans to watch the Stanley Cup Finals games live and full-game replays, though highlights are available on the free tier. Read our Peacock review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue package includes NBC, but NBC is available in only a handful of areas.

Read our Sling TV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

AT&T TV’s basic $70-a-month package includes NBC. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

NFL 2021: How to watch, stream football and RedZone this season without cable

The NFL season may be past its midway point, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stream the rest of the season.

The only way to get a full football experience is to have a whole litany of channels from your TV provider. Sunday NFC games are largely on Fox, AFC games are on CBS and Sunday Night Football is on NBC. Monday Night Football is only on ESPN. Though Fox has most Thursday night games (with additional streaming on Amazon Prime Video), there are several that are available only on NFL Network.

With all that in mind, we offer our recommendations for the best way to watch NFL without cable.

Read more: YouTube TV vs. Hulu vs. Sling TV vs. Philo vs. FuboTV vs. AT&T TV: 100 channels compared

Our pick from last year remains our go-to choice in 2021.

At $65 per month each, FuboTV’s Starter plan, Hulu Plus Live TV and YouTube TV check all the NFL boxes. Local channels CBS, NBC and Fox are included in many markets, as are ESPN and the NFL Network, so you can watch Sundays, Monday night and Thursday night.

Want to follow your fantasy team with RedZone? That’s available on all three services as part of an add-on. If you’re a YouTube TV subscriber, you can add the $11 per month Sports Plus add-on by clicking on your profile and going to Settings, then the Membership tab. FuboTV subscribers can go into My Profile and choose Manage Add-ons to get its $11-per-month Sports Plus with NFL RedZone offering.

After Hulu added the NFL Network in July, Hulu users can now add RedZone for $10 per month with its Sports add-on.

Both YouTube TV and FuboTV allow three people to watch at once (Hulu allows two live streams) and all three have apps on nearly every mobile device and major streaming platform, including Amazon Fire TV, Google TV, Roku and Apple TV.

While all three are largely similar, we like YouTube TV for its superior DVR (unlimited storage compared with 250 hours on FuboTV and 50 hours on Hulu) and that it, unlike Fubo, includes the Turner channels.

Both YouTube TV and FuboTV will stream Thursday Night Football games in 4K, but only Fubo includes the higher-quality broadcasts with its base package. To watch in 4K on YouTube TV you’ll need to spend another $20 per month.

Worth noting: YouTube TV and Hulu are each running promotions that drop their respective $65 monthly prices down to $55 per month for the first three months for new users. This should take you through much of the NFL regular season before the pricing jumps by $10 per month.

DirecTV Stream (formerly AT&T TV) offers most of the main broadcast channels, but starts at $70 per month and lacks NFL Network and RedZone.

Sling TV’s Orange and Blue plan for $50 a month gets you ESPN and the NFL Network, and, in select major markets, Fox and/or NBC, but you’ll still lack CBS. You can also add RedZone for $15 per month with the Sports Extra add-on.

A frequent fan-favorite method of following all the NFL action, RedZone is a way to catch every big play around the league. The cheapest road to RedZone is to get Sling TV Blue for $35 per month and add the $11 per month Sports Extra add-on.

This option can also be streamed on a host of devices including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and web browsers.

Sling is currently offering a discount on the first month of Sling Blue, dropping the price to $10 for the main package.

Note: If you only subscribe to Sling’s Orange package you won’t be able to get RedZone in Sports Extra. Your base package needs to be either Sling Blue or its larger Sling Blue Plus Orange bundle for you to be able to get RedZone as an add-on. If you choose the latter, the Sports Extra add-on is $15 per month as you will also get additional channels like the SEC Network, ACC Network and PAC 12 Network.

Those looking to save some cash might want to check out Sling Blue for $35 a month. While it lacks ESPN, meaning you’ll miss out on Monday Night Football, in select markets you’ll be able to get Fox and NBC. The catch is that those markets are mainly in big cities, so if you live outside one of those areas, Sling Blue might not be for you.

You can also add RedZone through the company’s $11 per month Sports Extra add-on.

Fox, of course, broadcasts most NFC and Thursday night games (with the others on NFL Network and/or Amazon Prime Video), while NBC has Sunday Night Football. CBS, which broadcasts the bulk of AFC games, isn’t included on Sling at all. But an antenna can fill those local channel gaps.

Local and prime-time games will also be available to watch for free on your iOS or Android phone or tablet through the Yahoo Sports app. You cannot, however, cast this feed to your big screen.

There are some apps that offer CBS’ slate of Sunday AFC games live, including Paramount Plus’ Premium tier for $10 per month. Depending on where you live, however, your local CBS station (and those NFL games) might not be available. CBS offers livestreaming services in many markets; you can check for yourself if your area has live CBS streaming here.

An antenna is another option for getting CBS, as is watching on the Yahoo Sports app. And as we mentioned above, an over-the-air antenna connected to your TV provides another free option, no streaming required, as long as you have good reception.

The 2021 schedule of NFL Network games.

Thursday Night Football is probably the most complicated part of the NFL streaming schedule. Most games will be available on the NFL Network, Fox, Amazon Prime Video and Twitch.

A handful of games, however, are also being shown exclusively on the NFL Network, including the Week 5 London game between the Jets and Falcons, and the Week 15 Saturday doubleheader with matchups that are yet to be announced.

As mentioned above, if you want the NFL Network you’re going to need FuboTV, Hulu Plus Live TV, Sling TV Blue or YouTube TV or use the Yahoo Sports app.

NFL Sunday Ticket is still largely limited to DirecTV satellite subscribers, though those who live in buildings that can’t add a satellite dish can get a streaming version to watch football starting at $147 for its To Go package for the remaining two months of the season, or $210 for a Max package that includes the RedZone channel (a student version is also available at a discount). You can check your address on the Sunday Ticket site. Both packages have a one-week free trial.

The problem here, however, is even if you’re eligible it doesn’t include local games. You can only watch Sunday games that aren’t being broadcast on CBS, Fox or NBC in your area. They also won’t be helpful come playoff time — as you’ll need your local stations and ESPN to catch all those games.

For $65 a month, you’ll get all the major football channels with YouTube TV. Plus, RedZone is available for an extra $11 per month. Plug in your ZIP code on YouTube TV’s welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue plan includes NBC, Fox and the NFL Network. Enter your address here to see which local channels are available where you live.

Note: This version of Sling TV does not include ESPN. For that, you’ll need to switch to the similarly priced Orange plan or go for the combined $50 per month Orange and Blue bundle. RedZone is also available for an extra $11 per month.

Read our Sling TV review.

Those looking for CBS games will be able to stream them on Paramount Plus with its $10 per month Premium tier. You can check for yourself if your area has live CBS streaming here.

Most Thursday Night games, starting with Week 5 on October 7, will be available on Amazon Prime Video. For millions of Amazon Prime subscribers, the Prime Video channel is already included at no extra cost. But if you’re not a subscriber, it might be worth it to shell out the $9 a month for the stand-alone TV service fee.

Read our Amazon Prime Video review.