Australian News

Will Pucovski ruled out of final Australia vs India Test, Marcus Harris to open

Australia opener Will Pucovski will miss the fourth Test against India at the Gabba due to a shoulder injury.

Pucovski suffered a shoulder subluxation injury while diving in the field on day five of the third Test at the SCG.

Marcus Harris will come into the side and partner David Warner who has been deemed fit despite appearing to struggle with a groin injury in Sydney at the top of the order.

There were no other changes to the side that drew the third Test in Sydney on Monday.

Australian skipper Tim Paine confirmed the change after the team’s final training session on Thursday morning.

“Will won’t play tomorrow,” Paine said.

“Marcus Harris will replace him … We’re looking forward to seeing what he will do.”

Two Victorian batters walk off the field smiling during a Sheffield Shield match against South Australia.
Marcus Harris (right) will replace his Victoria teammate Will Pucovski in the Test side.(AAP: James Elsby)

Harris has not played a Test since the 2019 Ashes Tour, where he made a top score of 19 in three matches.

The 28-year-old West Australian has a top score of 79 from nine Test matches, with a first-class average of 38.86 and a top score of 250.

“[Harris has] been working his backside off in our hub,” Paine said.

“He deserves his opportunity.

“He’s a really relaxed type of character, so he’s one we certainly enjoy having him in and around our group.”

Pucovski made scores of 62 and 10 in his maiden Test match, with Paine saying the medical staff needed more time to get him right for the Test than was afforded under the three-day turnaround.

“He’ll have a bit of work to do with our medicos to see where he goes from here.”

The Border-Gavaskar Test series is tantalisingly poised at 1-1, with the final and deciding Gabba Test set to start on Friday.

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Australian News

Joe Burns axed from Test squad as David Warner, Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski named in 18-man group

Struggling Test opener Joe Burns has been left out of the squad for the remaining two games of the series against India.

Long-time opener David Warner is expected to fill one of the spots at the top of the order in his return from a groin injury, while fellow openers Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski have also been included in the 18-man squad for the Tests in Sydney and Brisbane.

“David has made strong progress in his recovery from injury and will be given every chance to play in Sydney with another seven days until the match,” selector Trevor Hohns said.

Burns was the only member of the team who played the first two Tests in Adelaide and Melbourne to miss out on selection in the squad for the rest of the series.

He had struggled in Sheffield Shield cricket leading into the Test series and had scores of 8, 0 and 4 in three of the four innings through the first two Tests.

He did score an unbeaten half-century as Australia chased down 90 to win the first Test, but it was not enough to save the out-of-form Queenslander.

An Australian cricketer kneels with his head on the grass after injuring himself while fielding.
Warner injured his groin while fielding in the ODI series last month.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

“Unfortunately, Joe’s returns haven’t been what he or the selectors would like or what we consider he is capable of,” Hohns said.

Warner, Pucovski and all-rounder Sean Abbott, coming off a calf strain, will rejoin the squad in Melbourne on Thursday.

Spectacular Shield form had put Pucovski in the frame to make his debut as an opener in the first Test, but a nasty concussion, his ninth, during a warm-up match saw him sidelined.

“He will be fit to play in Sydney subject to completing the return-to-play protocols and an independent assessment.”

The injuries to Pucovski and Warner allowed Burns to keep his spot for the first two games of the series and forced middle-order batsman Matthew Wade into an unfamiliar opening role.

Despite performing respectably at the top of the order, there is speculation Wade may move back down to his preferred spot lower down the batting order for the rest of the series, meaning two new openers could be picked for the third Test in Sydney.

That opening partnership would be some combination of Warner, Pucovski and Harris, with current number five Travis Head possibly being dropped.

The third Test will start at the SCG as scheduled on January 7, but COVID-19 protocols mean the squad will fly into Sydney later than usual and only be allowed out of quarantine to train and play the match.

Players will train in Melbourne on January 2 and 3 before travelling to Sydney on January 4.

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Australian News

Joe Burns, Marcus Harris fail to fire ahead of first Test against India, Mitchell Starc returns to Australia squad

Joe Burns and Marcus Harris have failed to impress with the bat in their final hit-out before the first Test against India, both being dismissed cheaply in Australia A’s second innings against the tourists at the SCG.

But in positive news for Australia four days out from the Adelaide day-night Test, the home side will welcome back fast bowler Mitchell Starc who was granted compassionate leave last week.

Burns, who opened the batting in every Test for Australia last domestic season, was out for 1 on the final day of the pink-ball tour match in Sydney.

He was dismissed for a duck in the first innings on Friday.

Fellow opener Harris, who was called up to Australia’s Test squad on Saturday after Will Pucovski withdrew because of concussion, could only manage 5.


Both batters were dismissed by India quick Mohammed Shami.

Burns faced 21 balls and spent 39 minutes in the middle on Sunday before being trapped LBW by Shami.

The twin failures at the SCG add to an unconvincing start to the domestic season for Burns, who has tallied just 62 runs from nine first-class innings this season.

The Queenslander made 4 and a duck in Australia A’s first match against India last week at Drummoyne Oval.

Burns seemed a certain selection to open the batting for Australia in Adelaide, with David Warner (adductor injury) and Pucovski both ruled out.

But Australia Test great Allan Border said national selectors might be doing a disservice to Burns if they retained the out-of-form batsman in the Test XI.

“He just doesn’t look like scoring a run,” said Border, who was commentating on Fox Sports.

“If he just showed something, even if he made 20-odd today, batted OK and got out to a good ball, then you’d think we might stick with the incumbent.

Border backed Harris and Matthew Wade to open in the pink-ball Test, however that plan would be dependent on Cameron Green being passed fit for the match.

Cricket Australia (CA) is monitoring the condition of the young all-arounder, who was subbed out of Australia A’s match against India at the SCG on Friday evening after suffering a concussion while bowling.

CA’s medical staff said Green had shown “clinical improvement” on Saturday and was “symptomatically better” than he was the previous day.

Starc set to play Adelaide Test

Starc took leave from Australia’s T20 squad after the first match of the series against Indian because of a family illness.

The left-arm fast bowler has since advised the team management he is ready to return to the squad and he will fly from Sydney to Adelaide on Monday to join up with the rest of the Test team.

Mitchell Starc holds the pink ball in his hand above his head as his teammates stand around him and clap
Mitchell Starc will join his Australian teammates on Monday.(AP: Trevor Collens)

Fellow quick Josh Hazlewood said Starc’s return was very welcome.

“It’s obviously great news for us,” he said.

“He’s a huge part of our team and a huge part of our attack.

Starc has had great success with the pink ball since it was introduced for day-night Test and first-class matches.

Mitchell Starc celebrates another wicket with some high fives
Mitchell Starc (centre) claimed figures of 6-66 and 1-45 during his last day-night Test in Adelaide.(AP: James Elsby)

He has played in seven day-night Test matches, taking 42 wickets.


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Australian News

Marcus Stoinis defends maligned BBL rule changes, argues they will result in positive tactical shifts

Big Bash League star Marcus Stoinis has gone in to bat for the tournament’s maligned rule changes, arguing they will encourage positive tactical shifts in 20- and 50-over cricket.

Cricket Australia have tinkered with the format for the 10th edition of the BBL, which launches next month, allowing teams to make a substitution after 10 overs of the first innings.

The six-over power play has been trimmed to four overs, with the batting team to nominate another two overs of fielding restrictions from the 11th over onwards.

CA has also rejigged the BBL’s points system, with the chasing team to be awarded a point if they are ahead of their opponents’ equivalent 10-over score.

If not, the fielding team will receive the bonus point.

The changes drew the ire of recently retired Australia allrounder Shane Watson, who described them as “gimmicks” and “science experiments” that would create confusion for players, coaches and fans.

But Melbourne Stars opener Stoinis, who blasted a BBL-record 147 not out last season, does not agree.

A helmeted batsman plays a cross-bat shot in the Big Bash League.
Marcus Stoinis is not afraid of innovating in the BBL.(AAP: Mark Evans, file photo)

“I don’t like going against Watto because he’s mentored me for a long time,” Stoinis said.

“But I understand the purpose of them [the changes] and we can’t afford to get too attached to anything when it comes to Twenty20 cricket and progression of our sport.

He said the late-game powerplay would change the way he thinks about his innings but that the 10-over bonus point rule would ensure teams never “cruise”.

“I’m going to have to try to figure out how to be there for that second power play,” he said.

“There’s going to be a lot more tactics. Captains, coaches will be busier and you’ll probably see a few floaters in the batting order and people specifically going out there for those sorts of things.”

While the new laws are confined to Australia’s domestic competition, Stoinis can see the benefits flowing on to international cricket.

“I can see it’s going to overlap into one-day cricket a lot more,” he said.

“It’ll lift that ceiling of what we think’s possible in one-day cricket in my opinion and it’ll be harder and harder to play all three formats.”


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Australian News

Victoria’s Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris record highest partnership in Sheffield Shield’s 128-year history

Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris have broken the record for the biggest partnership in Sheffield Shield cricket history, passing the 30-year-old mark set by Steve and Mark Waugh.

On Sunday morning the Victorian opening pair overtook the 464-run stand made by the Australian Test team twins for NSW back in 1990.

The feat was achieved in Adelaide against South Australia when Harris crashed a boundary off the bowling of Wes Agar.

It stands as the highest Australian first-class partnership since the competition started in 1892.

The new record was set at 486 when Harris was caught behind off Agar’s bowling for 239. Pucovski remains not out.

South Australia had a chance to prevent the record on Sunday morning when Callum Ferguson dropped a simple chance from Harris at slip with the score at 0-436.

An old-fashioned manual scoreboard that reads "PUCOVSKI 226, HARRIS 226, 0 WKTS 465"
Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris etched their name in Australia cricket history.(AAP: James Elsby)

Elsewhere, leg-spinner Mitch Swepson took five wickets as Queensland bowled New South Wales out for 283, giving the Bulls a 15-run first innings lead.

Meanwhile, Tasmania has built a decent lead over Western Australia on the back of a patient 90 from Ben McDermott.


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Australian News

Marcus Rashford scores Champions League hat-trick for Manchester United as meal petition passes 1 million signatures

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford has backed up his off-field philanthropy with some on-field fireworks, netting three goals in a 5-0 Champions League thrashing of RB Leipzig.

The 22-year-old has been praised for his quest to provide free meals for under-privileged children in the UK, despite Parliament rejecting legislation that would have extended the program over the school holidays from October through the Easter break.

And while his attention is elsewhere off the field, Rashford’s focus was on goal in the group clash with German side RB Leipzig.

He did not get onto the field until the 63rd minute, with the score at 1-0, and quickly went about building that lead.

The England forward ran onto a first-time pass from Bruno Fernandes and slotted home to make it 2-0 in the 74th, building on the first-half opener by Mason Greenwood that made the 19-year-old forward United’s second-youngest scorer in the Champions League, after Wayne Rooney.

Rashford’s quick feet saw him charge through Leipzig’s open defence and drive in his second goal in the 78th and, after Anthony Martial made it 4-0 from the penalty spot, the French striker teed up Rashford to completed his first top-flight hat-trick in the second minute of injury time.

Many of his supporters, including former United defender Rio Ferdinand, were impressed by his multi-tasking abilities.




Rashford was this year given an MBE for his work lobbying the UK Government to address child poverty, which won the backing of Prime Minister Boris Johnson after drawing attention on social media.

But the future of the program could lie in the hands of private businesses, with Parliament voting down funding a six-month extension this week.

Rashford started a petition earlier this month to expand the program and it climbed above 1 million signatures on the same day as his hat-trick.

Mr Johnson said his Government would make sure “no pupil in the UK will go hungry”, saying they had given “specific sums” to local councils to help support families in need.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he supported Rashford’s mission, but backed the Government to accomplish it with current measures.

“[But] 63 million pounds ($116 million) has gone to councils … so that they can support people and make sure that everybody and every child gets the support that they need.”

Doctors said some 4 million children live in poverty in the UK, and one-third rely on free school meals.

The Opposition Labour Party has warned it will bring the issue back to the House of Commons if ministers do not change course in time for Christmas.

“We are honestly hoping that the Conservative Government dig deep and look introspectively and perform a U-turn on this,” Shadow Minister for Mental Health Rosena Allin-Khan said.


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Australian News

Why Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford is becoming a thorn in the British Government’s side

Manchester United star Marcus Rashford was this year given an MBE for his work lobbying the UK Government to address child poverty.

His idea to provide free meal vouchers to disadvantaged children during the northern summer’s school holidays won the backing of PM Boris Johnson after drawing attention on social media.

The future of the program could lie in the hands of private businesses though, with Parliament voting down funding a six-month extension this week.

So why has this England international footballer taken it upon himself to address child poverty?

What are the free school meals vouchers?

When Britain went into its first coronavirus lockdown in March, schools were shut.

Families that relied on free school meals to help feed their kids suddenly had that support cut off, a situation made worse for many by the fact they had lost their jobs to the pandemic as well.

As a result, the UK Government provided supermarket vouchers worth 15 pounds ($27.40) to about 1.3 million underprivileged families, whose children would otherwise have been receiving free school meals had they been at school.

The Government was not planning to extend that support through the summer holidays though, until Rashford intervened.

Marcus Rashford’s foodbank experience

A Premier League striker extends his leg after shooting the ball in mid-air, scoring a goal.
Rashford was one of five children raised by his mother on a Manchester housing estate.(AP: Jon Super, File)

Rashford, one of England’s top strikers for both the national team and Manchester United, earns an estimated 10 million pounds ($18 million) a year, however, the riches he enjoys now are a far cry from his childhood on a housing estate in Wythenshawe, a deprived area of southern Manchester.

Rashford recounted in an open letter to MPs in June that his family relied on food banks and free school meals to make ends meet.


“As a black man from a low-income family … I could have been just another statistic,” Rashford wrote.

“As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches.

“Ten years ago, I would have been one of those children [needing support] … you would have never heard my voice and seen my determination to become part of the solution.”

Rashford requested the Government break with tradition and provide meals during holidays, saying his request was “not about politics” but about “humanity”.

Rashford forced Government U-turn

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson wears a blue face mask.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson commended Marcus Rashford for his advocacy of free school meals in June, but did not extend the scheme in October.(AP: Ben Stansall)

Rashford’s open letter was retweeted more than 112,000 times and, after two days, the Government was forced into a U-turn.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he “congratulated” Rashford on his campaign.

“Clearly, free school meals should generally apply in term time … but we have to understand the pressure that families are under right now,” Mr Johnson said.

Rashford’s efforts ensured that 1.3 million children — 15 per cent of all state-educated children in England, according to UK Government figures — were able to claim free meals during the holidays.

For his efforts, Rashford was awarded an MBE, which an “honoured and humbled” Rashford immediately dedicated to his mum, the “real deserving recipient of the honour”.


Rashford used the awarding of the MBE to maintain pressure on the Government to keep the funding in place to support families during the October mid-term holiday.

“I would be doing my community, and the families I have met and spoken with, an injustice if I didn’t use this opportunity to respectfully urge the Prime Minister to support our children during the October half-term with an extension of the voucher scheme, as the furlough scheme comes to an end and we face increased unemployment,” Rashford said.

Government votes not to extend free school meals scheme

But Rashford’s plea fell on deaf ears.

On Wednesday, the House of Commons voted against a proposal from the Labour opposition to extend the free meal program throughout holidays for the next six months.

Rashford had launched a petition, with more than 600,000 signatures as of 9:00am on Saturday AEST, calling for the scheme to be extended.

However, Mr Johnson said the Government was already supporting low-income families through the benefit system.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wears a black mask outside No. 10 Downing Street.
Boris Johnson told MPs that the benefit system was in place to help low-income families.(AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)

“We support kids of low incomes in school and we will continue to do so,” Mr Johnson said.

“The Government will continue to use the benefit system and all the systems of income support to support young people and children throughout the holidays as well.”

The Labour motion was supported by five Conservative MPs, who voted in favour of the proposal, but others were critical, with one MP, Brendan Clark-Smith, decrying the campaign as “virtue signalling”.

“I do not believe in nationalising children, instead we need to get back to the idea of taking responsibility,” he said.

Another MP, David Simmonds, said the motive behind the proposal was to “curry favour with celebrity status”.

What was Rashford’s response?

Marcus Rashford runs with a football at his feet, wearing a white and black zebra-style football shirt
Rashford spent the best part of a day retweeting information about organisations who are providing free meals during the October holidays.(AP: Michel Euler)

Rashford released a statement, saying “a significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter because of comments that have been made today”.

“We must stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers — our views are being clouded by political affiliation,” he said.

He then visited a food bank depot in Manchester named for his mother, where he reiterated his support for those on low incomes, calling a lot of the commentary “insensitive”.

“People have opinions,” Rashford told the BBC.

“Whether or not they understand fully what the families are going through is another conversation … they’ve definitely not been through it themselves.

“I don’t mind the criticism.

“I’ll take that all day long, as long as we start to see improvements going forward for the people that are in need of it now.”

Companies, local councils come forward to provide free meals

Since the Government’s decision, more than 100 organisations, big and small, have come forward to say they will provide free school meals in their local areas.


Action has been taken by businesses ranging from fish and chip shops, councils and multi-national companies such as McDonalds, which confirmed it would provide 1 million meals.

Rashford has since flooded his Twitter timeline with a list of all the companies that have been in touch, telling his 3.6 million followers that he was “blown away” by the support.

“Selflessness, kindness, togetherness, this is the England I know,” he wrote.

After retweeting over the course of several hours, Rashford expressed thanks.

“I’m signing off with a feeling a pride tonight. The superstars of this nation lie in local communities.

“Even after taking the biggest hits you have wrapped your arms around your community to catch children as they fell.

“I really can’t thank you enough, you’re amazing.

“Every child should be going to bed tonight feeling like they DO matter.

“Overwhelmed and thankful.”


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Local News - Victoria

Marcus Bastiaan resigns from party

Earlier on Monday, Marcus Bastiaan, the controversial conservative firebrand who attempted to reshape the Victorian Liberal Party for the better part of the past decade, resigned from the party.

His resignation from the party of which he was once the state vice-president came after The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes reported details of a scheme hatched by the 30-year-old to use taxpayer-funded parliamentary staff to engage in factional work.

Mr Bastiaan’s plan was endorsed by Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar. Both Mr Sukkar and the other federal Liberal MP implicated in the operation, Kevin Andrews, denied wrongdoing and referred the matters to the Department of Finance for investigation.

Federal Labor has called for Mr Sukkar to be stood down but Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the most senior Victorian Liberal, Josh Frydenberg, said it was appropriate the issues were investigated by the department responsible for politicians’ staff.

In a statement issued on Monday morning, Mr Bastiaan apologised for the “foolish and stupid things” he said in his 20s but denied he broke any rules.


“I reject allegations of branch stacking. As the voluntary chair of the party’s membership and training committee between 2015 and 2018, my role was to recruit and train new members,” Mr Bastiaan said.

“Two years ago, I stepped down from the party’s administrative committee to focus on my family and business. These priorities have not changed.

“Clearly, I have said foolish and stupid things in my 20s. I apologise without reservation to those I have offended, and hope I’ll be wiser and kinder in my 30s.

“The ongoing leaking of years-old historic material is an unnecessary distraction for the Liberal Party and it is with that in mind that I have resigned.”

On Sunday night, party state director Sam McQuestin said he would decide “urgently on immediate actions” to be taken in reaction to the allegations levelled at Mr Bastiaan and the two MPs. The party boss said he would request “full and detailed” responses from the figures.

Mr Bastiaan rose to prominence in 2016 when he fashioned himself as the party’s great new hope, espousing barrel-chested social conservatism and advocating to remove older and more moderate MPs.

Branch stacking allegations have long been levelled at Mr Bastiaan, who has always argued his recruitment was within the rules.

In 2018, he was elected vice-president of the party’s Victorian branch and formed a close alliance with then-party president Michael Kroger. He had an iron grip on party affairs and helped install state director Nick Demiris to run the unsuccessful 2018 election campaign.

Mr Bastiaan stepped away from party affairs in September. He said at the time he wanted to spend more time with wife Stephanie, but Liberal sources say he has remained active behind the scenes.

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Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford campaign makes British Prime Minister Boris Johnson restore children’s food vouchers

Marcus Rashford is famous in Britain as one of the young stars of the Premier League, but the 22-year-old has scored a vital goal off the pitch, forcing the British Government to restore funding for free meals for children.

The young man who grew up as one of five children of a hard-working single mother in Manchester’s Wythenshawe area now earns an estimated 10 million pounds ($18 million) a year playing for one of the world’s biggest clubs.

But he has never forgotten his roots, and when Britain was forced into lockdown this year due to the coronavirus, Rashford began to use his platform to raise awareness and money for those in need.

He worked with poverty and food waste charity FareShare to help raise 20 million pounds ($36 million) to provide food for children who would have been eligible for free meals if still at school.

The campaign is helping to provide three million meals a week across the United Kingdom.

But there was still a large gap between the needs of hungry kids and the ability for charities to provide.

At the weekend, Rashford took his campaign one step further, writing an open letter to members of the British Parliament — his post on Twitter was retweeted more than 157,000 times.


“My story to get here is all too familiar for families in England: my mum worked full-time, earning minimum wage to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table,” he wrote.

“As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches.

“Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year.”

Rashford spoke of getting “thousands of insights” from parents trying to cope amid COVID-19.

“[I have listened to] schoolteachers who are personally covering the cost of food packages for their vulnerable families after the school debit card had been maxed out; mothers who can’t cover the cost of increased electricity and food bills during the lockdown, and parents who are sacrificing their own meals for their children.”

He urged the Government to reconsider its decision to cancel the existing food voucher system over the summer holidays to 1.3 million children from lower-income families.

“As a black man from a low-income family in Wythenshawe, Manchester, I could have been just another statistic,” he wrote.

“Instead, due to the selfless actions of my mum, my family, my neighbours, and my coaches, the only stats I’m associated with are goals, appearances and caps.

A Premier League striker extends his leg after shooting the ball in mid-air, scoring a goal.
Marcus Rashford has scored 41 goals in 133 games for Manchester United.(AP: Jon Super, File photo)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially resisted, but the Government gave in on Tuesday and said it would continue to provide food vouchers over the six-week summer break.

When schools were shut down in March, the voucher program was set up to help ensure children did not go hungry. Vouchers worth 15 pounds ($27.40) were given to spend each week in supermarkets.

The Government said it would continue the program over the summer in England at a cost of 120 million pounds ($219 million). Authorities in Scotland and Wales have similar plans.

Until Tuesday, Mr Johnson’s Conservative Government had refused to budge, pointing out that it had earmarked an extra 63 million pounds ($115 million) for local authorities to support vulnerable families.


But Rashford’s campaign quickly picked up steam, backed by celebrities, opposition politicians and even some Conservative MPs.

After the announcement, Rashford tweeted: “I don’t even know what to say. Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.”

Mr Johnson said he had spoken to Rashford to congratulate and thank him.

“We have to understand the pressures families are under right now and that’s why we’ve responded as we have,” Mr Johnson said.

Rashford is not the only young star working to help those in need during the pandemic.


His teammate Jesse Lingard has taken part in charity FIFA tournaments to raise money for Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).

Lately, as Britain moves to require people to wear face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19, Lingard has created new 12-pound “JLingz” masks, with all proceeds going to provide funds for the NHS.

Rashford’s achievement in forcing the policy change drew praise from the worlds of sport and politics.

Anne Longfield, England’s Children’s Commissioner, thanked Rashford for highlighting “the blight of holiday hunger”.

Manchester United’s official Twitter account said: “A hero. An inspiration. One of our own. We are so proud of you, Marcus Rashford.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters praised Rashford’s perseverance.

“It’s a really important and heart-moving cause so I offer my congratulations to him,” Masters said.


In a statement, Rashford thanked British MPs for listening.

“This was never about me or you, this was never about politics, this was a cry out for help from vulnerable parents all over the country and I simply provided a platform for their voices to be heard,” he wrote.

“I stand proud today knowing that we have listened, and we have done what is right.”



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Neiman Marcus files for bankruptcy

At the end of March the coronavirus pandemic temporarily forced the closure of all 43 Neiman Marcus stores as well as its two Bergdorf Goodman stores and Last Call outlets, all but stopping sales and crushing revenue. But while that may have been the immediate cause of Neiman’s filing, its problems had been building for years. The company took on an untenable amount of debt as part of two leveraged buyouts by private equity firms, and Neiman’s did not respond quickly enough to changes in shopping habits. Together, those developments left the group in a precarious position even before the virus hit.


Neiman Marcus listed in filings about $US5 billion in long-term debt as of April 2019. The company was sold in 2013 to a group led by Ares Management, a private-equity firm, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in a $US6 billion deal.

The pandemic has been disastrous for the already weakened retail industry. In March, sales of clothing and accessories fell by more than half. Those numbers are only expected to be worse for April because many stores were open for at least some of March (e-commerce, a relatively small contributor to total sales for most store chains, is not enough to save them). Retailers have furloughed employees, slashed corporate salaries and hoarded cash in a desperate attempt to make it to the end of the shutdown. Earlier this week, mass-market clothing company J. Crew filed for bankruptcy, the first major retail casualty during the pandemic. John Varvatos, the menswear brand, also declared Chapter 11.

The company said it would “continue to assess store closure decisions” for Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Last Call and reopen once it is safe to do so. Ten Neiman Marcus stores are now offering curbside pickup, and some temporary store closures will continue through May 31.

William Susman, managing director at Threadstone Advisors, said he expected the retailer to use bankruptcy to shed some of its leases and reduce its physical footprint, a situation that could make it more attractive to a potential buyer.


“Neiman Marcus has a bad balance sheet, but it’s still a luxury brand,” Susman said. “They still have a reason to exist.”

Neiman Marcus was founded in Dallas in 1907, just in time to become a magnet for new oil money. It built its reputation on an unabashed embrace of the trappings of luxury — and the dreams of those who aspired to own them or experience them for a moment. It became famous for its extravagant Christmas catalogue, which over the years offered items like an only-at-Neiman’s authentic Guinness pub-in-your-home for $US250,000 and a $US20 million submarine.

The company’s mastermind was Stanley Marcus, son of one of the founders — Herbert Marcus. (The other founders were Herbert’s sister, Carrie Marcus Neiman, and Carrie’s husband, A.L. Neiman). Under his guidance Neiman Marcus became the first department store to hold a weekly fashion show for customers. On the occasion of the Texas Centennial Fair the store held a special extravaganza it called “100 years of Texas fashions,” and Edna Woolman Chase, editor of Vogue and a guest, said, “I dreamed all my life of the perfect store for women. Then I saw Neiman Marcus, and my dream had come true.”

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