German Cup: Minnows to waive home advantage as fans gradually return

The first round of the German Cup typically pits semi-professional and amateur sides against Bundesliga giants such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Traditionally, the lower-ranked side is automatically drawn at home, allowing them to welcome star names and give them the best chance of causing an historic cup upset in front of their own fans.

But with matches still taking place behind closed doors in most parts of Germany, many smaller clubs have given up their home advantage and requested to play away instead, citing the prohibitive costs of staging matches without fans.

“It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly and we’ve done everything we can to try and play at home,” Siegfried Richter, the president of fourth-division side Union Fürstenwalde, told German public radio station RBB.

Fürstenwalde have qualified for the cup for the first time after winning last season’s regional Brandenburg Cup. They have been drawn against Bundesliga side Wolfsburg, but the match will now take place at the Volkswagen Arena.

“The temporary television camera positions require significant building work, including 16-meter high towers, and those costs have to be met by the home club,” explained Richter. “The economic risk is simply too much.”

Cost of competition

Participants in the first round of the cup receive prize money of €175,000, but the coronavirus pandemic brings additional costs, with clubs also required to develop a strict hygiene concept, including testing and quarantine measures. Back in June, such a concept meant it cost Lokomotive Lepizig over €30,000 just to stage a single promotion playoff match behind closed doors – with no ticket sales to cover the costs.

Also making their cup debut are fellow fourth-division outfit VSG Altglienicke, who have been drawn against Cologne after winning the local Berlin Cup last season. But instead of welcoming the Billy Goats to the capital, Altglienicke will instead travel to the 50,000-seater RheinEnergieStadion, which recently hosted the Europa League final between Sevilla and Inter.

“In the end, economic sense won the day,” chief executive Marco Schröder told RBB. “It’s a shame that we can’t play in our own stadium but it will still be a great experience for the players and the staff, playing in a stadium which hosts international games.”

Other amateur clubs who have given up their home advantage for financial reasons include fifth-division 1. FC Düren (vs. Bayern), TSV Havelse (vs. Mainz), FC Oberneuland (vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Eintracht Celle (vs. Augsburg).

Fourth-tier Schweinfurt, representing last season’s still-ongoing Bavarian regional league, will travel to Gelsenkirchen to face Schalke, but at least that game will be played in front of spectators. The Royal Blues announced this week that 300 tickets (the maximum number of spectators currently permitted at sports events in the state of North Rhine Westphalia), will be distributed free of charge to key workers from local hospitals and care homes.

Hundreds or thousands?

Schalke’s Ruhr valley rivals Borussia Dortmund will also play in front of 300 spectators when they make the short trip to third-division Duisburg – whose stadium also hosted Europa League fixtures this summer. There was controversy last week when it was announced that all 300 tickets would go to German Football Association (DFB) sponsors, but that decision has since been watered down. One hundred tickets will now be made available via a ballot to supporters who purchase “virtual” fundraising tickets.

With attendance regulations varying across Germany from state to state according to rates of infection, some clubs in certain regions can welcome more fans. In the eastern state of Saxony, for example, fourth-division Chemnitz can make the most of their home advantage when they host Hoffenheim in front of over 4,600 supporters. Similarly, third-division Dynamo Dresden are hoping to welcome around 10,000 fans when they face Hamburg.

Meanwhile on the Baltic coast in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Hansa Rostock have incredibly been drawn against VfB Stuttgart for the third year in a row. Previous meetings produced electric atmospheres, but this one will be limited to an attendance of 7,500.

It’s better than nothing, and the smaller clubs will be hoping that the loss of their home advantage and the lack of fans will not end up damaging the magic of the cup.



Meghan Markle and Harry: Hidden advantage to couple's Netflix deal – 'highly significant'

Mr Fitzwilliams added: “For Harry and Meghan, this represents an opportunity to make documentaries and feature films and children’s programmes which is also a chance to campaign for the causes they believe in such as diversity, gender equality, the environment and mental health.”

Nest Tuesday Harry will mark his first birthday since stepping down as a senior royal.

Since announcing their plans to withdraw in January the Sussexes have undergone huge changes in their lives.

From relocating to America, to buying a home and gaining financial independence, it seems the couple have finally found the freedom they were after.



Brexit boost: UK has HUGE advantage over EU on world stage for THIS reason says expert

And despite former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s apparent disdain, Mark Littlewood, director-general of the Institute for Economic Affairs, said English would only become more important in the years to come. Mr Littlewood was speaking at the end of a week which saw UK negotiator David Frost meet with EU counterpart – and Frenchman – Michel Barnier for further talks in Brussels aimed at thrashing out a trade deal.

However, despite Mr Juncker’s 2017 description of English as “less important than it was”, Mr Littlewood said the reverse was the case – and suggested its common usage across the globe offers Boris Johnson a considerable advantage in tying up agreements with other countries.

Mr Littlewood told Express.co.uk: “English is increasingly the global language of commerce.

“That irritates the European Union somewhat and it certainly irritates the French.

“The European Union has got an interesting question facing it.

“Does it remain largely bilingual, despite the fact that the only native English speakers will be the very small Republic of Ireland?

“Or does it sort of put two fingers up to the English-speaking world and say ‘no we’re going to do everything in French?’

READ MORE: Switzerland vs EU: New leader pushes to end of freedom of movement

With respect to Mr Juncker’s remark three years ago, he added: “It might diminish in terms of the number of translators you have sitting in the EU bureaucracy but that’s a rather different point to the one Jean-Claude Juncker might be making.

“In terms of getting real business done around real negotiating tables I think English is going to become a more important and more common language.

“In fact you can probably get by only speaking English and that might not have been the case 30 or 40 years ago.

“Those trends are our friends.”

Additionally, within the EU itself, Mr Littlewood was doubtful whether individual countries would agree with Mr Juncker’s assessment.

Mr Littlewood said: “Each time I go back to an EU country, almost every time, I am amazed how English has spread further still.

“The Scandinavians and the Dutch all speak it fluently.

“And a few years ago some of the railway stations were bilingual – they had signs in English.

“What the EU bureaucracy does with its protocols about translations is something of an irrelevance.

“In the real world, where real people do real business, the English language is here to stay and I think is going to be growing.

“In ten years’ time, anyone across the globe who wants to engage in international commerce is likely to be speak English and that is a substantive advantage for us here in the United Kingdom.

“It’s an opportunity to be the pioneers of international free trade, as we were a little over 100 years ago.”



Sophie Wessex: The HUGE advantage Sophie has over Kate Middleton – despite lesser title

“She is like another daughter to Her Majesty, they are that close.

“The Queen is also mindful that Sophie’s marriage has survived where her other children’s relationships have failed – and she knows that is in no small way down to Sophie’s dedication – she is aware, as his Edward’s mother, what a tricky creature he can be.

“And not only has Sophie flourished as a dedicated, albeit still relatively junior member of the Royal family, she has brought up two teenagers who are well-balanced, sporty, amusing and delightful.”

Recently, Prince Edward, Sophie and their children joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in Scotland.



World War 3 warning: China’s major advantage over US in military battle laid bare

Chinese authorities have reportedly warned crews to stay away from the Senkaku Islands to avoid further tension with Tokyo. It came as Japan said it would respond if Chinese fishing vessels returned to the waters around the disputed chain of islands after Beijing’s summer fishing ban in the East China Sea expired on Sunday. Earlier this month, Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono said his country’s Self-Defence Forces would “act firmly when necessary” if Chinese vessels intensify their activities around the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan controls and calls the Senkakus.

The Senkaku Islands, all of which are uninhabited, have long been the cause of sour China-Japan ties.

Sean King, senior vice-president of Park Strategies in New York and an affiliated scholar at University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute, told Express.co.uk that the islands would likely be the single source of any armed conflict in the region.

Japan is a pacifist country, a policy that was written into its constitution shortly after it surrendered as an Imperial power in 1947.

Then, in 1960, the US officially committed itself to protecting Japan from any impending danger; this danger in decades passed having taken the form of China.

The Senkakus have long since been a point of contention, with both China and Japan laying historical claim to them.

Japan currently controls the eight landmasses, and it is widely thought that if China were to attempt to capture them, the US would step in.

However, as Mr King explained, this isn’t to say that the US would be successful, as China would essentially have a “home advantage”.

He said: “The US has 50,000 troops in Japan, most of whom are in Okinawa, which is nearby; it has 23,000 troops in South Korea who could be called on in case of contingency, and however many hours away the US has more troops in Hawaii and Guam.

JUST INChina Sea clash: US and Japan join forces in tense territorial row

“I would think in a spat over the Senkaku Islands depending on the situation, I do think the US would be in a position to defend Japan.”

US intervention may not only be bound in its commitment to Japan.

The islands are also key because they are close to shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds and lie near potential oil and gas reserves.

They are also in a strategically significant position, amid rising competition between the US and China for military primacy in the Asia-Pacific region.

With the most recent reported move by China to steer clear of the islands, many have noted it coincides with worsening relations with the US.

The Japanese news agency Kyodo has reported that Chinese fishing fleets have been told not to approach the Diaoyus after the ban is lifted.

Fishing crews said they had been told by the authorities in the southeastern provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang not to come within 30 nautical miles, or 56 kilometres, of the uninhabited islets, the report said.



Fortnite ban on Android: Samsung Galaxy has HUGE advantage over iPhone, Pixel, OnePlus

Fortnite is one of the biggest games on the planet, with Apple and Google estimated to have made $360million and $10million respectively before it was blocked.

In their lawsuit filed on Thursday, Epic Games described Apple as a “behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition and stifle innovation”.

They said: “Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched and more pernicious than monopolies of yesteryear. Apple’s size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history.”

While the Fortnite makers also accused Google of abandoning their idealistic roots and claimed it is a “broken promise” to say Android is an open ecosystem.

Epic Games said: “In 1998, Google was founded as an exciting young company with a unique motto: ‘Don’t Be Evil’. Twenty-two years later, Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought, and is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolise.”



Car tax changes: Thousands of employees encouraged to 'take advantage’ of major savings

These updates will allow employees to save on their company car payments if they have an electric vehicle which would help cash-strapped road users. Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low says the changes allow dorves to have “more financial freedom” to secure a range for vehicles.

Alongside this, drivers would be able to secure “ a variety of benefits” including major savings on “fuel tax and maintenance costs”.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Ms Welch said: “The changes to Benefit-in-Kind tax earlier this year mean that employees can take advantage of lower monthly company car payments for electric vehicles.

“EVs now incur a 0 percent tax rate for the first year, down from 16%, so employees have more financial freedom to choose from a wider range of vehicles.

“But this is just one of the reasons I’d encourage companies and employees alike to consider EVs for their company cars.

READ MORE: Car tax changes see petrol and diesel owners more affected

This will rise again to two percent by 2022 before being frozen until the 204/25 tax year so drivers cma continue to make vikings.

Despite the small rise, these charegh are still set to be minkal compared to the heavy 16 percent tax that used to be paid by owners.

A new study by Deloutte has shown UK sales of petrol and diesel cars may have reached its “peak” as electric car demand increases.

The study has predicted that 42 percent of new cars sold in Europe by the end of the decade will be battery powered.

Jamie Hamilton, head of electric vehicles at Deloitte says sales of traditional vehicles are “likely to experience a decline” in the coming years.

He said: “The outbreak of Covid-19 means we have likely seen petrol and diesel vehicles reach their sales peak, albeit relatively unnoticed.

“With total annual car sales unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, even if sales growth in the petrol and diesel market returns it is likely to experience a decline in market share thereafter.”

The latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed just under 31,000 new electric cars have been sold so far in 2020.

This is up 158.6 percent on sales figures at the end of June in 2019 which stood at just under 12,000.

Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles said: ““We are facing a climate emergency and must act now to accelerate the end of the internal combustion engine.

“However, the switch to EVs doesn’t just make environmental sense, it’s better financially too.

“Going electric allows you to take advantage of government incentives, zero congestion charge, and save 90% on fuel costs – all whilst using flexible leasing plans. Now is the time to go electric.”

But despite the increase in sales, SMMT data shows electric cars make up less than five percent of the overall car market.

Over 392,000 petrol vehicles and 118,000 diesel models have been sold in 2020 showing traditional cars still dominate the market for the time being.



Samsung Galaxy Note 20 could have one big advantage over Huawei, Apple and OnePlus rivals

According to a post by WinFuture (via Tom’s Guide), Samsung are teaming up with Xbox to make the Note 20 Ultra the perfect companion for Xbox fans.

The rumoured partnership between Microsoft and Samsung means the Note 20 Ultra has been optimised for Project xCloud streaming.

For those that aren’t in the know, xCloud is the Xbox cloud gaming service which lets you stream Xbox games to your smartphone or tablet.

It’s been rolled out in an early test so far, and at the moment xCloud offers over 50 games that can be streamed to a device.

Among the games included with the service are Batman Arkham Knight, Devil May Cry 5, Forza Horizon 4, Forza Motorsport 7, Gears 5 and Halo 5 Guardians.

These games are available also on the current-gen Xbox One console as standalone purchases, with first-party titles also in the Game Pass subscription service.



OnePlus has one crucial advantage over AirPods and Galaxy Buds, but it's not all good news

Discussing how OnePlus arrived at the decision to favour fast-charging over other technology, Jay Liu told TechRadar that while users charge their smartphones every night, they will often only charge their headphones seconds before they need to use them.

OnePlus has already confirmed that its Buds will boast a total battery life of 30-hours, which is more than AirPods and Google Pixel Buds. Unfortunately, there’s no word on when the wireless earbuds will be available to buy… or how much they’ll cost.

OnePlus is holding an event on July 21, 2020 to announce a new smartphone – the first in a new product line called OnePlus Nord – as well the OnePlus Buds. Express.co.uk will be watching the event with our eyes peeled, so stay tuned for everything you need to know.



Kate Middleton and William have one ‘massive advantage’ unlike Meghan and Harry

The future king and queen cemented their relationship with a long friendship first, whereas Meghan and Harry quickly fell in love after being set up on a blind date. After the future Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced their engagement in 2010, they sat down for an interview with ITN’s Tom Bradby.

William and Kate used the interview to discuss how their relationship began at St Andrew’s University where they met as students.

The two became friends before they began dating which according to William was advantageous.

Speaking to Mr Bradby, William said: “We ended up being friends for a while and that just sort of was a good foundation.

“Because I do generally believe now that being friends with one another is a massive advantage.”

Royal

Kate and William were already friends before they began dating (Image: GETTY)

Royal

The Dukes and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex (Image: GETTY)

One year later, in April 2011, William and Kate were married at London’s Westminster Abbey.

They now have three children, six-year-old Prince George, five-year-old Princess Charlotte and two-year-old Prince Louis.

Whilst Kate and William first formed a relationship as friends the first encounter between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was romantic.

The couple met on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend in 2016.

READ MORE: Kate Middleton and Prince William’s glimpse inside Kensington Palace

Royal

Harry and Meghan met on a blind date in 2017 (Image: GETTY)

A year later, in November 2017, the couple officially announced their engagement.

In an interview to mark the occasion Prince Harry talked about how quickly their romance had developed.

He commented: “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was a sort of confirmation to me that everything, all the stars were aligned.

“Everything was just perfect.

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Now the lockdown has eased Kate and William have resumed in-person royal duties (Image: GETTY)

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Prince William visited a pub before they reopened across England (Image: GETTY)

“It was this beautiful woman just sort of that — she tripped and fell into my life; I fell into her life.”

However during the same interview Meghan played down a suggestion their romance had been “whirlwind” saying she’d had plenty of time to get to know her future husband.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have spent the coronavirus lockdown in Anmer Hall, their Norfolk residence.

They moved out of Kensington Palace, where they normally live, before the shutdown began.

The couple have been home-schooling their children as well as undertaking official engagements, for a period relying on Zoom calls when physical visits were impossible.

Most recently Kate took part in a video conferencing call with pupils from Bond Primary School, a south London school.

British tennis legend Sir Andy Murray also appeared on the call to discuss his sport and experiences of lockdown.

Back in January Harry and Meghan surprised the world by announcing they were to step down as senior members of the royal family.

Royal

Street art of Prince Harry encouraging people to wash their hands in Los Angeles (Image: GETTY)

Instead the couple said they would aim to become “financially independent” and split their time between North America and Britain.

They went on to settle in Los Angeles, California, before lockdown was imposed.

Recently the lockdown in Los Angeles, which had been somewhat loosened, was made tighter again following a surge in cases.

Earlier in the lockdown Meghan and Harry were spotted delivering food to vulnerable local residents unable to shop for themselves.