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Manchester United vs Liverpool postponed after anti-Glazer protests

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A football fan chants slogans before a protest against the ownership of Manchester United.

Andy Barton, SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Manchester United’s Premier League game against Liverpool at Old Trafford has been postponed following protests against the Glazer family.

Hundreds of fans got into the stadium ahead of the behind-closed-doors contest, which was originally scheduled for a 4.30pm kick-off before being delayed and then called off completely.

Discussions are taking place around finding a new date for the fixture.

Two police officers were injured during Sunday’s demonstrations, with one hospitalised after “sustaining a significant slash wound to his face”, according to Greater Manchester Police.

A United statement read: “Following discussion between the Police, The Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, our match against Liverpool has been postponed due to safety and security considerations around the protest today. Discussions will now take place with the Premier League on a revised date for the fixture.

“Our fans are passionate about Manchester United, and we completely acknowledge the right to free expression and peaceful protest.

“However, we regret the disruption to the team and actions which put other fans, staff, and the police in danger. We thank the police for their support and will assist them in any subsequent investigations.”

Liverpool said they were in “full agreement” with the decision to postpone and will continue to have dialogue with Manchester United, the Premier League and the local authorities to find a suitable date to reschedule.

“It is our position that public safety must be the number one factor in any such decision, with the ability to provide a secure environment for the participants, staff and officials being a particular priority,” said a club statement.

Police officers monitor football fans during a protest against the Glazer’s ownership of Manchester United.

Andy Barton, SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

“It was clearly not possible for this to be guaranteed today due to a situation which escalated rapidly.”

The Premier League condemned all the “acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated COVID-19 breaches” in a statement after the postponement was confirmed.

“The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance,” a Premier League statement read.

“We understand and respect the strength of feeling but condemn all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated COVID-19 breaches.

“Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification. We sympathise with the police and stewards who had to deal with a dangerous situation that should have no place in football.

“The rearrangement of the fixture will be communicated in due course.”

Man Utd fan protests and postponement – A timeline

  • 1pm – Fans begin congregating outside the trinity statue on the Old Trafford forecourt, as another group starts to protest at the Lowry Hotel, where the United team are staying ahead of the game.
  • 2pm – The numbers of protestors swell to thousands outside Old Trafford, with firecrackers being let off and a group of supporters beginning to march towards the Munich Tunnel.
  • 2.30pm – United fans breach security and invade the stadium, taking to the Old Trafford pitch. Flares are let off, firecrackers are thrown and one supporter is seen wielding one of the corner flags.
  • 3pm – The stadium is in lockdown. A sweep of the stadium is required and there is said to be damage to the pitch.
  • 3.30pm – Despite mounting uncertainty over the status of the match, the Premier League proceeds to publish the official team sheet one hour before the scheduled kick-off time.
  • 3.55pm – The Premier League issues a statement in which it confirms the match will not kick off at its scheduled start time
  • 5.40pm – Officials confirm the game will be postponed.
  • 5.50pm – The Premier League calls the postponement

Supporters also gathered outside the team’s hotel – The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, where the United team were staying before the game – ahead of Sunday’s match at Old Trafford.

Greater Manchester Police said they were “aware” the protests were due to take place and “were working closely alongside partners to ensure those that attended were kept safe whilst enabling their right to peaceful protest”.

“By late afternoon around 200 protestors had gathered outside the Lowry and over 1,000 at Old Trafford,” the police statement read.

“Officers continued to closely monitor the situation, engaging with those present but as the groups grew in size; it became clear that many of those present were not intending to exercise their right to peaceful protest. Flares were let off and bottles thrown at officers.

“Protestors outside Old Trafford became especially aggressive and antagonistic towards police before a group of about 100 forced entry to the ground with some United staff having to lock themselves in rooms.

“Those in the stadium were evicted by officers but outside on the forecourt hostility grew with bottles and barriers being thrown at officers and horses.”

Many United supporters are still angry and upset over their club’s role as one of the founder members of the proposed breakaway European Super League.

The plans added to years of discontent and protests from supporters following the controversial takeover by the Glazers in 2005.

United owner Joel Glazer, unveiled as Super League vice-chairman when the announcement was made, apologised in an open letter to all the club’s fans after they were forced to pull out of the plans.

However, that apology seems to have been rebuffed by the club’s supporter base who protested outside Old Trafford last week which followed even more protesting at United’s Carrington training ground.

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House committee passes broad tech antitrust reforms

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A House committee passed a series of sweeping antitrust reforms Thursday after roughly 23 hours of debate.

While the advancement of the six tech-focused bills considered by the House Judiciary Committee beginning Wednesday is a victory for the bipartisan members who introduced them, the markup surfaced rifts within parties that could ultimately hamper the bills’ chances of becoming law.

Several lawmakers made it clear they thought the process from introduction to markup in less than two weeks felt rushed, despite a lengthy investigation preceding the bills. Some said they hoped to see further changes before the legislation reaches the House floor.

Still, the last leg of the debate offered some signs of optimism for those hoping to advance the bills further. Fresh from a recess after passing the fifth bill after 5 a.m. on Thursday, lawmakers returned to the committee room to discuss the Ending Platform Monopolies Act around 11:30 a.m.

The bill — sponsored by antitrust subcommittee Vice Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and co-sponsored by Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas — would prevent dominant platforms from owning business lines that present conflicts of interest, such as by incentivizing them to favor their own products over rivals’ dependent on their services.

The bill was one of the most aggressive in the package, which also included updates to merger filing fees for dominant platforms, a shift of burden of proof in acquisitions and provision to let state attorneys general have more say in the venue of their antitrust cases. It could essentially force break-ups of businesses like Amazon and Apple, which both sell products or services on their own marketplaces that also serve third-parties. Both stocks closed slightly lower for the day.

Despite the major implications of the bill, it was not the most controversial of the bunch. Lawmakers spent much longer arguing over the data portability mandate under the Access Act as they assessed potential security issues, for example.

Jayapal’s bill also inspired lively debate. Ultimately, the vote fell along similar lines as the others (it passed 21-20, supported by Democrats and Reps. Ken Buck, R-Colo., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and opposed by Republicans backed by Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., and California Democrats Lou Correa, Zoe Lofgren and Eric Swalwell). But throughout the discussion, it was clear many in the group broadly agreed with the principles of the bill, even if they felt it could use some fine-tuning.

“I will tell you, I’m not 100% there to break up Big Tech, but I’m close,” said Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C. “And this is the bill that if it were done right, would be the vehicle to put that on the table.”

Though an amendment he introduced failed, antitrust subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I. and Jayapal expressed a willingness to work with Bishop on potentially including a nod to his idea in the bill. Bishop essentially sought to try to expedite antitrust cases to the courts by removing a regulatory step. Cicilline had called it “the most interesting amendment of the markup” even though he did not support it, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio called it “the amendment.”

In an interview after the markup on Thursday, Buck, the ranking member on the antitrust subcommittee who supported the legislation, told CNBC he expects more work will be done before the bills move forward.

“I don’t think the bills are going to be on the floor for a couple of months because of the August recess, so I think that the opportunity to work together is certainly there,” he said.

It’s clear that even after such a long debate, the bill authors still have a lot of work to do. After the markup adjourned, bipartisan members of the California delegation on the committee released a joint statement, urging further revision to the bills despite their passage from the committee. They also said the committee members did not have enough time to properly consider the bills prior to the markup.

“The bill text as debated is not close to ready for Floor consideration,” wrote Correa, Swalwell, Lofgren and Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Tom McClintock, R-Calif. “We urge the sponsors of the bills to take the necessary time, commit to a comprehensive approach, and work with their bipartisan colleagues of this Committee to address the concerns articulated during markup to further develop these bills.”

Buck responded to criticism from his colleagues who felt they didn’t have enough time to review the bills, saying “it’s a common objection” but that “the ideas in the bill were summarized in reports that were written last October.”

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Nike (NKE) reports Q4 2021 earnings beat

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A man walks in front of Nike products exhibit, on February 22, 2021 in New York City.

John Smith | Corbis News | Getty Images

Nike on Thursday reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and sales that topped analysts’ estimates, fueled by record revenue in its largest market, North America.

The company continues to benefit from consumers seeking out comfortable clothing to wear for workouts but also around the house. Even as people return to schools, offices and other social settings, many are still searching for relaxed options like sneakers and stretchy pants.

Nike also saw a boost to its wholesale business — something that was largely inactive a year earlier during the Covid pandemic, when shopping malls and department stores had to temporarily shut their doors and put orders for merchandise on pause.

Nike shares jumped more than 4% in after-hours trading.

Here’s how the company did during its fiscal fourth quarter, compared with what analysts were anticipating, using Refinitiv estimates:

  • Earnings per share: 93 cents vs. 51 cents expected
  • Revenue: $12.34 billion vs. $11.01 billion expected

Nike’s net income for the period ended May 31 rose to $1.5 billion, or 93 cents per share, compared with a loss of $790 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier. That topped analysts’ forecast of 51 cents per share, using Refinitiv data.

Total revenue rose to $12.34 billion from $6.31 billion a year earlier, topping estimates for $11.01 billion.

In North America, Nike’s biggest market, sales more than doubled to a record $5.38 billion as the company surged from a year earlier when the Covid pandemic was hitting the retail industry the hardest. The region’s sales were up 29% on a two-year basis.

In Greater China, sales were up just 17% at $1.93 billion. Typically one of the fastest-growing markets for Nike, consumers in China have threatened a boycott after some Western brands like Nike expressed concern about allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang.

Digital sales were up 41% compared with the prior year, and rose 147% compared with the same period in 2019.

“Fueled by our momentum, we continue to invest in innovation and our digital leadership to set the foundation for Nike’s long-term growth,” said Nike CEO John Donahoe.

Find the full earnings press release from Nike here.

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Federal Reserve gives U.S. banks a thumbs up as all 23 lenders easily pass 2021 stress test

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The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that the biggest U.S. banks could easily withstand a severe recession, a milestone for the once-beleaguered industry.

The Fed, in releasing the results of its annual stress test, said that all 23 institutions in the 2021 exam remained “well above” minimum required capital levels during a hypothetical economic downturn.

That scenario included a “severe global recession” that hits commercial real estate and corporate debt holders and peaks at 10.8% unemployment and a 55% drop in the stock market, the Fed said. While the industry would post $474 billion in losses, loss-cushioning capital would still be more than double the minimum required levels, the Fed said.

If there was an anticlimactic note to this year’s stress test, it’s because the industry underwent a real-life version in the past year when the coronavirus pandemic struck, leading to widespread economic disruption. Thanks to help from lawmakers and the Fed itself, banks fared extremely well during the pandemic, stockpiling capital for expected loan losses that mostly didn’t materialize.

Nevertheless, during the pandemic, banks had to undergo extra rounds of stress tests and had restrictions imposed on their ability to return capital to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks. Those will now be lifted, as the Fed has previously stated.

“Over the past year, the Federal Reserve has run three stress tests with several different hypothetical recessions and all have confirmed that the banking system is strongly positioned to support the ongoing recovery,” Vice Chair for Supervision Randal K. Quarles said in a statement.

Dividend increases and buybacks coming

After passing this latest exam, the industry will regain a measure of autonomy it lost since the last crisis. After playing a key role in the 2008 financial crisis, banks were forced to undergo the industry exam, and had to ask regulators for permission to boost dividends and repurchase shares.

Now, under something called the stress capital buffer framework, banks will gain flexibility in how they want to dole out dividends and buybacks. The stress capital buffer is a measure of capital each firm needs to carry based on the riskiness of their operations. The new regime was supposed to start last year, but the pandemic intervened.

“So long as they stay above that stress capital buffer requirement and all their other requirements every quarter, a bank can technically do whatever it chooses to do with regards to buybacks and dividends,” Jefferies bank analyst Ken Usdin told CNBC this week.

During a background call with reporters, senior Fed officials pushed back against the idea that the new regime resulted in a free-for-all. Banks are still subject to restrictions, and the Fed is confident that the stress capital buffer framework will protect their ability to support the economy during a downturn, they said.

While analysts have said they expect the industry can hike buybacks and dividends by tens of billions of dollars starting in July, the Fed has instructed lenders to wait until Monday afternoon to disclose their plans, according to people with knowledge of the situation. That’s when a flurry of press releases is expected.

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