The government has signed up only about 40 mainstr

first_imgThe government has signed up only about 40 mainstream private sector employers to its flagship Disability Confident employment scheme in the three years since it was launched by the prime minister, new figures reveal.An analysis by Disability News Service (DNS) shows that – with the exception of 15 law firms, and recruitment, welfare-to-work and employment specialists, which often have a financial interest in disability issues – the government appears to have persuaded just 26 non-disability-related private sector organisations to sign up to its national scheme, and one of those is a small café in Cornwall.Disability Confident was launched in July 2013, and its aims was to “debunk the myths around employing disabled people and encourage employers to take advantage of the wealth of talent available”.But fresh analysis of the partners signed up to Disability Confident shows that of the 126 organisations, nearly half – an estimated 55 – are focused on representing or working on behalf of or for disabled people, such as Suffolk Coalition of Disabled People, Mencap and Disability Rights UK.Another 18 are public sector organisations, while there are also three quangos and one sports governing body, but only about 40 mainstream private sector companies*.Those 40 include major employers such as Airbus, Asda, Honda, Balfour Beatty, Barclays, Fujitsu, National Grid, Taylor Wimpey and Sainsbury’s… and the Cornish Maid Café in Falmouth, Cornwall.The analysis suggests that the efforts of successive Tory ministers for disabled people – Esther McVey, Mike Penning, Mark Harper and Justin Tomlinson – have failed to persuade more than a tiny minority of businesses across the country to take the scheme seriously.David Gillon, a disabled activist and blogger who has led criticism of Disability Confident since its launch by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in 2013, said the numbers were “astoundingly pathetic”.He said there were gaping holes among “private sector big names”, with Asda, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s signed up, “but no Tesco or any of the second-tier retailers”, and “huge holes where entire industries are missing – no train operating companies, no airlines, none of the big logistics companies”.He said there was one government department, a handful of local councils, only one NHS trust, and no police forces, while “the number of partners who are dependent on DWP contracts is really quite remarkable”.Gillon said Disability Confident had signed up “a handful of massive big-name firms”, but that there was a “huge hole where all the large and medium scale companies should be, and then a tiny handful of small companies.“And that small business take-up seems to be entirely from companies that are run by someone with an interest in disability employment, or that are non-profits with a focus on employing disabled people.“Whether big or small, these are the employers who don’t need Disability Confident’s message.“There’s no sign of any penetration into employers who actually have problems with employing disabled people, whether through incompetence or outright discrimination.“It seems Disability Confident is only confident enough to preach to the converted.”Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said the analysis by DNS showed “yet more evidence of this Tory government failing disabled people”.She said: “I am concerned at the small numbers of employers who have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme. “In addition, the lack of evaluation or transparency of the Disability Confident scheme raises questions about the transparency of employers, who should be held accountable to a framework of standards, as well as sharing best practice.“I know from speaking to disabled workers, as I did recently at the TUC’s Disabled Workers Conference, that some employer attitudes are too often a barrier to effectively addressing the disability employment gap. “Yet Disability Confident is not seen as a mechanism that has improved attitudes since its launch in July 2013.“If the Tories were serious about improving the situation, there would be a series of measures in place to support into employment those disabled people who are able to work. “Yet in recent weeks they have dropped the promise to introduce a white paper on plans to close the disability employment gap by the summer, delaying any form of action by months or possibly years.”She added: “The 40 mainstream employers currently listed as active partners in Disability Confident will certainly not be able to support the 1.3 million disabled people who are able to and want to work.” DWP refused to respond to the DNS analysis or comment on the number of partners, instead claiming that more than 550 employers had “registered their interest to become more Disability Confident” since December.A DWP spokesman said: “The programme is supported by a range of major employers and small businesses across the UK – but we want to go even further to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential in the workplace.”Disability Confident has frequently been criticised for its “patronising waffle”, which activists say ignores “institutionalised disability discrimination” at a time when ministers have been smearing disabled benefit claimants as “workshy”.The former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith was even accused of lying to his own party members about the success of the campaign when he told the 2014 party conference that more than 1,000 employers had “signed up” to Disability Confident, when in fact just 376 had just expressed some interest or support for the campaign, and far fewer than that had signed up as partners.And last July, the minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, announced that Swansea had become the UK’s first “Disability Confident City”, but was then unable to explain how and why it had earned the accolade.*The figures in this article are estimates produced following an analysis of the Disability Confident partners’ page by DNS and have not been confirmed by the Department for Work and PensionsPicture: Prime minister David Cameron launching Disability Confident in 2013last_img read more

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A senior civil servant has admitted to MPs and pee

first_imgA senior civil servant has admitted to MPs and peers that the government’s industrial strategy will not be “fit for purpose” unless it corrects its failure to consider disability and other equality issues in a green paper it published in January.Alex Williams, the civil servant responsible for sector deals* for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), was twice forced to acknowledge to the all party parliamentary group for disability (APPGD) that the government’s industrial strategy would need to address the previous failure to mention disability and equality issues, when it is published later this year.In its first meeting of the new parliament, the APPGD focused on the government’s attempts to halve the disability employment gap.But Philip Connolly (pictured), policy manager for Disability Rights UK (DR UK), told the meeting that both the green paper and the government’s earlier national infrastructure plan “may not even be legal documents” because of their “complete omission of equalities”.He said he believed the government had breached its public sector equality duty to look at all of its policies and programmes through the “prism” of equality and fairness, and he asked why there was “a complete omission of equalities in the drawing up of these documents”.Despite the equality duty, there is not a single mention of disability or disabled people, or even equality, in the 132-page Building Our Industrial Strategy green paper, while there is just one mention of disability (relating to investment in special educational needs) and no mention of equality in the 113-page 2016 National Infrastructure Delivery Plan.According to DR UK, the national infrastructure delivery plan references more than 600 projects worth more than £483 billion of public expenditure (including £48.6 billion on social infrastructure, £88.4 billion on transport, and £9 billion on housing), while the draft industrial strategy mentions about £64 billion of public spending.Williams told the meeting: “The document wasn’t our industrial strategy, it was very much a call to action to contribute to what our industrial strategy should be.“I will very, very firmly take away that point. If we publish a similar statement…. without that due consideration it will not be a fit for purpose document.”When Connolly then asked the government to “prove that disabled people are being listened to and you are complying with your legal duties”, Williams added: “Yes, that message is being very, very clearly registered with me.“If we publish an industrial strategy towards the end of this year that doesn’t take that into account, that will not be a fit-for-purpose document.”Connolly was one of the authors of Ahead Of The Arc, a report published by the APPGD in December on how to halve the disability employment gap, which called on the government to adopt a “new, innovative and multi-dimensional approach combining incentives, persuasion, funding and legislation”.After the meeting, Connolly told Disability News Service: “The [industrial strategy and national infrastructure] documents play into a toxic narrative that starts with cutting benefits, proceeds to reduced back-to-work employment support, and ends in invisibility in the country’s economic policies.“Putting this narrative into reverse requires an inclusive economy.”A newly-elected disabled MP, Labour’s Jared O’Mara, told the meeting that the government’s cuts and reforms to legal aid had made it much harder for disabled people to take employment tribunal cases when their employers had failed to make reasonable adjustments for them at work.He said this meant that the Equality Act was “just legislation on paper and it just has no teeth”.In April, a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that government reforms to legal aid in England and Wales had harmed disabled people’s access to justice in family law, housing, employment, debt and benefits cases.It also said there had been a 54 per cent drop in employment tribunal claims on the grounds of disability discrimination between 2012-13 and 2015-16, following the introduction of tribunal fees of up to £1,200 across Britain in July 2013.The government’s Disability Confident employment campaign was also heavily-criticised in the meeting, by another of the Ahead Of The Arc’s authors, Professor Kim Hoque, of Warwick Business School.He said there were “pretty severe doubts” that enough employers would sign up to the scheme to make a significant impact, and that even if they did, there was no guarantee that they would introduce the necessary changes to their policies and practices.He said Disability Confident would only have an impact on disability employment if enough large, private sector employers signed up, and he had doubts that they would.The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that of 41 employers that have achieved the highest Disability Confident “leader” status, there appear to be only four large mainstream corporate employers – Barclays, Fujitsu, KPMG and Lloyds Banking Group – that are not involved in disability or providing employment services.Professor Hoque said: “With regard to whether organisations that sign up will actually put the necessary support in place, the evidence doesn’t bode well.”He co-led research that found three years ago that Two Ticks, the predecessor for Disability Confident, was nothing more than an “empty shell” used as a public relations tool.That study found that one in five Two Ticks workplaces adhered to none of the five commitments they had to make to sign up to the scheme, while there was no evidence that Two Ticks workplaces were any better than non-Two Ticks workplaces.He told the meeting: “Whether Disability Confident will be any better remains to be seen.“There is no particular reason to think that it will. It’s very similar in nature to Two Ticks.”Concerns about Disability Confident were also expressed by Dr Lisa Cameron, the SNP MP who chairs the APPGD.She said she had attended a Disability Confident awareness-raising event, which had been well-attended by employers in her constituency.But when she followed up with those employers six months later, “no-one had made any strides in terms of employing anyone with a disability”.She said: “All the Disability Confident events we are running do not appear to be enough in themselves to generate change.”The disabled Liberal Democrat peer Lord Addington said he believed the key issue was the need to implement laws that had already been introduced, because there was already “enough legislation to sink battleships”.And he called on the government to look at where there was “bureaucratic intervention” with disabled people, such as ensuring jobcentre staff were suitably trained to deal with job-seekers, and know the difference between “dyspraxia, dyslexia and dyscalculia” or have the time to seek further advice if they do not.Paul Milton, a disabled campaigner who attended the meeting, said the employment problems faced by disabled people were caused by the failure to enforce existing laws.He said: “The legal rights and requirements are there but they are not enforced. Until they are enforced we will carry on having this problem. We are going around in circles.”Andy Shipley, policy manager for the spinal injury charity Aspire, told the meeting that the government was failing to lay out “a coherent vision for disability that cuts across departmental agendas”.He said this vision needed to address barriers such as inaccessible public transport, the lack of accessible housing, an inaccessible built environment and insufficient social care support packages.He said he wanted to know how the government was “going to facilitate the participation of disabled people” and allow them to contribute to society.last_img read more

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UCLA Philanthropists Fund Purchase Evicting Mission District Tenants

first_imgA family of wealthy philanthropists is one of a handful of investors backing the purchase of a Mission District building where some 14 rent-controlled tenants have received eviction notices.Howard and Irene Levine — the husband and wife investors — are also the named donor for the Howard and Irene Levine Program for Housing and Social Responsibility at the University of California, Los Angeles.The program — which trains graduate students in real estate — is aimed at addressing “timely and critical issues related to urban housing markets” including the “housing needs and outcomes of low-income and workforce households,” according to its website.The pair also run a tax-exempt family foundation with assets valued at $16 million and hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations. But in addition to their philanthropic practices, the pair loaned $200,000 to Danny Sun on August 17, 2015 two days before he purchased a three-unit building at 2820 Folsom St. Eight months later — in April of this year — Sun gave eviction notices to all its tenants. “They’re taking affordable housing, and these bastards are just getting rich off the backs of people who should remain in the city,” said Stephen Booth, a lawyer with the Tenderloin Housing Clinic who is representing 12 of the 14 tenants in the building.Deep Pockets Fund EvictionsBooth first wrote of the tenants’ plight in Beyond Chron — a blog run by the Tenderloin Housing Clinic — in early May. He profiled the tenants facing eviction, many of whom are artists or musicians, and most of whom are working-class — teachers, baristas, and a Mission District baker.The Levines did not return requests for comment. Tim Kawahara, the director of the UCLA program named after the family, said he did not know the specifics of the eviction deal and declined to comment.“It would not be appropriate for me to comment,” he said.Funding for the UCLA program was made through the Howard and Irene Levine Family Foundation, which pledged $3 million for the program in 2014. It pledged another $920,000 — and paid out some $933,000 — in grants to a variety of charitable causes, including more than $400,000 to Jewish and pro-Israel groups, including Birthright and a variety of congregations and schools, according to last year’s tax filings. Howard Levine is an alumnus of UCLA, founder of a mortgage company, a board member of the affordable housing developer Mercy Housing, and a donor to the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate. At the same time, he and his wife were one of many wealthy investors who loaned money to Sun.There is nothing illegal about the loans, but the story of the tenants on Folsom Street offers a glimpse at how wealthy investors can make money in a hot real estate market like San Francisco’s. Other investors in the Folsom Street property include $350,000 from Leo and Donna Boger of San Jose, $500,000 from Boris and Tiffany Beljak of the Boris Beljak and Tiffany Beljak Family Trust, and $590,000 from Michael Moser of One to Four, Inc. Profit Sharing Plan.The $1.64 million that Sun received from the investors allowed him to purchase the Folsom Street property for $1.72 million. It is unclear how Sun knew the investors.The Folsom Street building is now worth some $2.7 million, according to the real estate website Zillow, meaning each unit could sell for some $900,000. It is unclear how much each unit will be worth once it is remodeled and sold, but residential real estate in the Mission District averages some $900 per square foot, according to the real estate website Trulia.The building is some 4,848 square feet, meaning the total price could be $4.36 million total — though realtors said such estimates were likely to be rough. If Sun fails to repay his investors, they are entitled to take ownership of the house as a group, each investor with a share equal to the percentage of investment put in.This is not Sun’s first Ellis Act eviction. He previously bought a rent-controlled, three-unit building in 2013 for a little more than $1 million and flipped it, evicting five tenants at 642 Natoma St. on April 24, 2014 through the Ellis Act. The Ellis Act is a 1985 state law that was supposed to be used by landlords wanting to exit the rental market. In a tight real estate market, however, it is often used by speculators who pick up a building for a bargain price, evict tenants, and then resell the units at market-rate prices.  The building on Natoma Street, for example, was remodeled after the tenants were evicted. One of the units sold for $869,000 earlier this year, according to Zillow. Leo and Donna Borger also loaned Sun $550,000 for the purchase of 642 Natoma St. — alongside some $1.2 million from four other investors. Donna Boger declined to comment on her family’s loans to Sun. None of the other investors could be reached for comment.Both land deals specify that investors can expect to be repaid by Sun in full “with interest,” but do not define the interest to be paid.“These people are speculators,” said Tommy Seiler, one of the tenants of the building. “It’s not owner move-in, it’s not rich people just moving in their families, it’s total speculation that destroys affordable housing in the city.”For their part, the tenants are fighting their eviction. All have been offered buy-outs, according to Booth, but 12 of the 14 decided instead to seek legal assistance and fight the eviction. The strategy is to ferret out improprieties in the eviction paperwork in an effort to further stall or quash the eviction.“We tend to find weaknesses and try to exploit those,” Booth said. He said an eviction can be delayed two to four years, though “it depends on how good a job the landlord does” at filing paperwork.Booth added, however, that the law firm retained by the landlord — Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, which specializes in landlord-tenant disputes — “tends to do a pretty decent job on the paperwork.” Still, he said, he believes he can quash the eviction — though he declined to describe a specific legal strategy.“We hold this stuff close to the vest until this time comes,” he said. “[But] I’m confident that we will prevail.”This is the first in a three-part series about the purchase of the building at 2820 Folsom St. and the eviction of its tenants. Check back tomorrow for the next installment.Part Two: Mission District Tenants Fight Deep-Pocketed Ellis Act Eviction, June 17Part Three: Mission District House Targeted by Wealthy Investors Could Become Affordable, June 18 0%center_img Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

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Its hard to believe he has been here for a year

first_imgIt’s hard to believe he has been here for a year! #anniversary #saintsandproud pic.twitter.com/02Wm9KiAlm— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) May 18, 2018last_img

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Wilmington Police investigating South 13 Street shooting

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)  — Wilmington Police are currently investigating a shooting that happened late Saturday night.According to Wilmington Police spokeswoman Jennifer Dandron, officers responded to a report of a woman shot in the 700 block of South 13 Street and Wooster Street at 10:30 PM.- Advertisement – WPD said when the officers arrived they located a victim who was then transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.The investigation is ongoing.If anyone has any information, contact WPD or use Text a Tip.last_img read more

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Three shot including two children during drive by shooting in Columbus County

first_img Three adults and three children were in the home at the time.According to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, the home was hit multiple times by bullets. One of the men inside the home, Anthony Kinlaw, 30, was shot in the leg.An 11-year-old girl was shot multiple times and a boy was grazed by a bullet.Related Article: George Zimmerman banned from Tinder dating appAll three were taken to the hospital.The sheriff’s office says they do not have information on a suspect at this time.The investigation continues. COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a drive by shooting that sent two children and a 30-year-old man to the hospital.It happened in the 900 block of Miller Road near Tabor City just before 9:00 p.m. on Thursday.- Advertisement – last_img read more

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North Brunswick High School teacher recognized for mentoring students

first_imgLELAND, NC (WWAY) — If you spend a few minutes in Kylie Reynolds’ classroom, you’ll soon discover why students enjoy coming to class.Reynolds teaches at North Brunswick High School in Leland.- Advertisement – “She tries to work with us individually and she wants the best out of us,” said Zachary Bolding, a freshman at the school. “She’s like a second mom to me.”This year, she’s teaching ninth graders, many of which need a little extra help to stay on track with their peers.“I work with kids that tend not to do so well in school,” Reynolds said. “If I can build a relationship with them, then it tends to increase their success.”Related Article: North Brunswick High football coach to be honored at Panthers gameA UNC Wilmington graduate, Reynolds says its important to help her students develop a sense of self-worth.“Everybody has a strength,” Reynolds said. “Everybody’s better than me at something and I think its important for teenagers, especially, to recognize their self-worth so that way they become better people than when they entered this building.”Reynolds’ philosophy for teaching gets high praise from her administrators.“She’s only been teaching four years but its so natural for her,” said Dr. Amy Callahan-Hayes, NBHS Assistant Principal. “She builds relationships with her students and really knows how to support them both academically, socially, and emotionally.”After receiving a nomination about Reynolds, WWAY decided to pay her a surprise visit on Tuesday, Nov. 13, and we recognized her as our Teacher of the Week.“Teachers, in general, work really hard its nice to be recognized so its appreciated,” Reynolds said. “Thank you!”On behalf of WWAY’s sponsor, Mattress and Furniture Liquidators, we presented Reynolds with a $100 gift card. Click here if you’d like to nominate your favorite educator for WWAY’s Teacher of the Week.last_img read more

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Man charged with New Zealand mosque attacks gave money to Austrian farright

first_imgBrenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is lead into the dock for his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand March 16, 2019. Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald/Pool via REUTERS.Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is lead into the dock for his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand March 16, 2019. Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald/Pool via REUTERS. Austria’s far-right Identitarian Movement received cash from the man charged with killing 50 people in mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, this month, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Wednesday.“We can now confirm that there was financial support and so a link between the New Zealand attacker and the Identitarian Movement in Austria,” Kurz said.A spokesman for prosecutors in Graz said the head of Austria’s Identitarian Movement, Martin Sellner, received 1,500 euros ($1,690) in early 2018 from a donor with the same name as the man charged over the March 15 Christchurch attacks.New Zealand police said investigators were making a large number of enquiries, across New Zealand and internationally, but refused to go into details.Sellner, who did not reply to requests for comment from Reuters, published two videos on YouTube in which he said he had received a donation which involved an email address that matched the name of the Australian alleged to have carried out the Christchurch attacks.He said in one of the videos: “I’m not a member of a terrorist organisation. I have nothing to do with this man, other than that I passively received a donation from him.”He said the donation was from early 2018 and that he would give the money to a charitable foundation.Sellner said police had raided his house over the possible links to the attacker.Austria’s Identitarians, who say they want to preserve Europe’s identity, are a relatively new, media-savvy far-right movement that uses the internet to promote their actions on the streets.They imitate the tactics of more established activist groups such as Greenpeace. In 2017, they helped charter a ship as part of what they said was a campaign to defend Europe and they have tried to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.Hansjoerg Bacher, spokesman for Graz prosecutors, said an investigation was underway about whether there were criminally relevant links between Sellner and the mosque attacker.The Austrian Interior Ministry declined to comment.Kurz said Austria was looking into dissolving the Identitarian Movement.“Our position on this is very clear, no kind of extremism whatsoever – whether it’s radical Islamists or right-wing extremist fanatics – has any place in our society,” he said.Kurz said on Twitter on Tuesday any connection between the Christchurch attacker and members of the Identitarian Movement in Austria needed to be fully clarified.Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), said the FPO had nothing to do with the Identitarian Movement.New Zealand has announced a royal commission inquiry into the Christchurch attack.A suspected white supremacist has been charged with one count of murder over the shootings and will next appear in court on April 5.New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the man had not been on any watch lists in New Zealand or Australia.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrintlast_img read more

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Two men hurt in Munxar fight released from custody

first_img SharePrint CMRUCMRU Two men injured in a fight in an apartment in Munxar have been granted provisional release by the Gozo Court.A police statement explains that the men appeared before Magistrate Paul Coppini today. Both men are Ghanian in origin and aged 37 and 33. They are Munxar residents.The 37 year old had been charged over an argument which took place on the 2nd June. The man had been brandishing a sharp pointed item causing slight wounds to the 33 year old. It was deemed that the 37 year old had not intended to kill or to place the other person’s life in danger.The 33 year old was also charged for more serious injuries inflicted on the 37 year old, but they were deemed to not be intended to kill or place their life in danger.The accused replied not guilty to the charges against them.They were subsequently granted bail.The prosecution was led by Inspector Bernard Charles Spiteri.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

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Malcom makes incredible Uturn

first_img SharePrint Until yesterday the Brazilian winger was close to signing for Roma but then decided to accept Barcelona’s late offer. Malcom has signed a five-year deal and was presented by the Spanish side earlier today. The promising youngster cancelled his Monday flight to Rome after learning about Barcelona’s approach.Bordeaux will pocket £45.5m for the the 21-year-old who will undergo mandatory medical tests on Wednesday as he becomes Barcelona’s third signing of the summer. The Spanish side will most probably give up on adding Chelsea’s Willian to their stellar team as they failed to match the Stamford Bridge club’s £70m valuation.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=a7617b59&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=128&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=a7617b59&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

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