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Verratti dazzles to make Italy the team to fear in the last 16

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Well, that was tense. Kind of. On a gruelling afternoon in Rome Wales qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2020. Thanks to the vagaries of the format they did so through a shifting fog of almost-drama, a whirl of semi-excitement, as Group A did its best to conjure some genuine final-round tension out of Uefa’s self-own of a 24-team Euros.

Not that anyone in red cared. It is now two out of two for Wales: two European Championships and two knockout-stage runs, a wonderful achievement for this high-craft, brilliantly likable generation of players and for the caretaker manager, Robert Page.

Italy were always out of reach here. But Wales showed wonderful defensive concentration to contain the outstanding team of these group stages and remained within a shanked Gareth Bale volley of levelling the score. They will be daunting opponents at the sharp end of this tournament.

Beyond that three things were clear in Rome. First, this is not a drill. Roberto Mancini’s thrillingly intense Azzurri are the real thing. Italy press and move so well, a collection of synchronised parts all over the pitch. But they also have a kind of rage about them. At times this Italy team looks like it wants to gnaw your arm off. To discomfit your full-backs with a neat, super-slick interchange along an overloaded inside channel. But gnaw your arm off while they’re doing it.

They are also in a rare luminous period. Victory here meant Mancini’s iteration have equalled Italy’s 30-game unbeaten run set almost a century ago. On 35 minutes they went past 1,000 without conceding a goal.

Watching this game you wondered where this might end. Will Italy ever concede a goal again? Does this have to happen? Who says? Then there was Marco Verratti, one of the more understated velvet-touch world-class footballers around, who dominated this game by stealth as he so often does. Mancini made eight changes for this game, a revolution that felt less significant given the sense of unity in this group. Change the parts, change the players – you still have the same mixed and flowing substance that is Mancini’s Italy.

Challenges

The key audition for the challenges to come was the return of Verratti after injury for his 41st cap. He is an odd Italy player, a one-time prodigy, darling of the academies, who has spent almost all of his mature career in Paris. Aged 28 now, and straight back into the groove in Rome, he provides another, deeper gear in this system.

There was something a little Pax Romana about the opening exchanges, as Wales fell back into a deep red double bolt. But Verratti was already picking away at the hinges. He danced and dawdled and twinkled about, a footballer who is totally unafraid in possession, with a way of waving his foot over the top of the ball, like a street magician daring you to follow the coin under the cup.

It was Verratti’s clever free-kick on 38 minutes that made the game’s only goal. First he went down under a nudge in a tempting spot on the right. Verratti took the free-kick, whipping in a smart low cross as Wales prepared for the expected aerial barrage. Matteo Pessina was ready, snaking across the front of the defence and tickling the ball on its way beyond Danny Ward’s flailing hand.

And Verratti was everywhere in this game. By the end he had touched the ball 136 times, completed 94 per cent of his passes, created the goal, had shots, dribbles, tackles, headers, and driven the entire show from his roving, twirling semi-free role at the heart of the midfield.

Daunting test

Mancini may or may not retain his busy artistry for the more daunting tests to come. But this team now has a wonderful note of variation.

Finally, we saw the in-built failure of this format in the round of final fixtures. Why play so many games to get rid of so few teams? It is sad to see those shivers of genuine sporting cut and thrust passed up, the robust competition you could have had if the top two were the only two going through here.

Perhaps all four teams could qualify next time, or groups be divvied into a series of exhibitions: “classic rivalries”, hard-running east Europeans, a Legends Group where Michael Owen and Dean Saunders duke it out in seven-minute quarters.

The point of course is revenue – more product, more pull with the politicians so desperate to see their nations part of the marketing beano.

Money doesn’t ruin everything in sport. But it is, we can be sure, doing its best.

The outcome was correct in any case. Wales progress with confidence and huge credit. The only sad note was Ethan Ampadu’s red card for stepping on Federico Bernardeschi’s toe, correct under the Uefa guidelines, but still annoyingly soft for an everyday kind of collision.

– Guardian

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Sirius Real Estate sells London business park for €18.8m (GB)

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Sirius Real Estate has agreed to the sale of an asset in Camberwell, London, for €18.8m (£16m), representing a NIY of circa 2%. The property formed part of the portfolio Sirius acquired in November 2021 with its purchase of BizSpace, the leading provider of regional light industrial, workshop, studio and out of town office units across the UK. The sale price represents a 94% premium to the valuation at the time of Sirius’ acquisition of BizSpace.

 

The multi-tenanted business park, which comprises approximately 34,700ft² of industrial and office space is 91% occupied following a series of asset management measures delivered through the BizSpace platform. The sale is expected to complete in July 2022.

 

Commenting on the transaction, Andrew Coombs, Chief Executive Officer of Sirius Real Estate, said: “This disposal is further proof of the latent value in the BizSpace portfolio we acquired late last year, the price being significantly ahead of last September’s valuation on which our purchase was based, and the attractive sale follows our recent announcement that we had since improved like-for-like rental income across the portfolio by 7.5%. The sale will allow us to invest in new opportunities for BizSpace in the UK as we continue to build our acquisition pipeline. Bringing together the Sirius and BizSpace platforms, with a strengthened management team at BizSpace, is already delivering strong results and operational synergies that will enhance our UK portfolio.”

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Southwold beach hut which is 10ft wide with no running water or electricity up for sale for £250,000

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A beach hut in an upmarket seaside town which is famed for its celebrity visitors has gone on the market for a record £250,000.

The price is believed to be the highest ever to be asked in the UK for a hut which people are not allowed to sleep in – and is double the cost of a three bedroom terraced house just 10 miles away.

The hut, numbered 149 and called ‘Here’s Hoping’, measures 10ft 6ins wide and is in a prime position on the promenade in the Edwardian town of Southwold, Suffolk.

The resort has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis.

Beach huts on the south coast can be more expensive with selling prices for some in Dorset exceeding £500,000.

But the huts in Southwold, which have no electricity or running water, are subject to strict local by-laws which ban anyone from sleeping overnight.

A beach hut called 'Here's Hoping', pictured, which sits on the promenade of the upmarket seaside town Southwold in Suffolk, Doset, famed for its celebrity visitors, has gone on the market for a record £250,000

A beach hut called ‘Here’s Hoping’, pictured, which sits on the promenade of the upmarket seaside town Southwold in Suffolk, Doset, famed for its celebrity visitors, has gone on the market for a record £250,000

The price is believed to be the highest ever to be asked in the UK for a hut which people are not allowed to sleep in. The hut, called 'Here's Hoping' and numbered 149, measures 10ft 6ins wide and is in a prime position on the promenade in the Edwardian town

The price is believed to be the highest ever to be asked in the UK for a hut which people are not allowed to sleep in. The hut, called ‘Here’s Hoping’ and numbered 149, measures 10ft 6ins wide and is in a prime position on the promenade in the Edwardian town

The resort has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis. Beach huts on the south coast can be more expensive with selling prices for some in Dorset exceeding £500,000

The resort has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis. Beach huts on the south coast can be more expensive with selling prices for some in Dorset exceeding £500,000

The buyer will still have to pay annual ground rent of £998 and will only have 18 years left of a 30 year lease, although there will be an option to renew.

They will be able to enjoy spectacular views from a veranda overlooking the beach and the North Sea, while being just a short walk from pubs, restaurants and shops.

But just 10 miles away in Lowestoft, Suffolk, there are several homes up for sale, priced between £120,000 and £140,000.

But the huts in Southwold (pictured), which have no electricity or running water, are subject to strict local by-laws which ban anyone from sleeping overnight

But the huts in Southwold (pictured), which have no electricity or running water, are subject to strict local by-laws which ban anyone from sleeping overnight

Southwold beach (pictured) has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis

Southwold beach (pictured) has always been a popular retreat for well-heeled Londoners and celebrities including Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis

Huts in the best locations within Southwold, which is famed for its Adnams brewery, pier and lighthouse, are rarely on the market and some have been in the same family or generations

Huts in the best locations within Southwold, which is famed for its Adnams brewery, pier and lighthouse, are rarely on the market and some have been in the same family or generations

Several semi-detached homes in the area offer three bedrooms, one bathroom and two reception rooms, and is located 0.1 miles away from Lowestoft railway station.

Another property on the market is a £90,000, three-bed semi-detached bungalow at Broadlands Park and Marina in Lowestoft which has a garden, one bathroom and one living room.

The listing for the beach hut boasts that it has ‘glazed double folding doors’ and ‘a number of storage cupboards’.

The previous highest price asked for one of Southwold’s 300 beach huts was £150,000 in September 2018.

Prices have soared since then as property prices have continued to increase and the demand for staycation breaks following the Covid epidemic has boomed.

Huts in the best locations within Southwold, which is famed for its Adnams brewery, pier and lighthouse, are rarely on the market and some have been in the same family or generations.

Several semi-detached homes in the area offer three bedrooms, one bathroom and two reception rooms, and is located 0.1 miles away from Lowestoft railway station

Several semi-detached homes in the area offer three bedrooms, one bathroom and two reception rooms, and is located 0.1 miles away from Lowestoft railway station

Many are rented out for around £600 a week to visitors who flock to the town.

The latest asking price is more than double the price of a three bedroom terrace house on the market for £110,000 around ten miles away in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

More than half the properties in Southwold are second homes and the full-time population is now below 1,000, putting extra strain on local services.

Earlier this year, councillors unveiled plans to try and stem the number of second homes in the town and make more affordable housing possible for local people.

A spokesperson for estate agent Flick & Son, which is selling the hut, said: ‘I am sure it will go very quickly.

‘There is a high demand for huts and we expect there will be a bidding war in the end.’

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EU will retaliate to any unilateral action on NI protocol, Coveney warns

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British prime minister Boris Johnson has been warned of the consequences of unilateral action on the Northern Ireland protocol, including the prospect of “retaliatory” action from Europe.

On the eve of Mr Johnson’s visit to Belfast, the Government and Sinn Féin said moves to disapply parts of the protocol risked damaging east-west relations.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney spoke of a “landing zone” for negotiations and indicated that the European Union was willing to make adjustments through “partnership and dialogue” due to what he said were “legitimate concerns” within unionism about the operation of the protocol.

However, he also said that if London moved unilaterally it would make matters “significantly worse” and that “then the EU will be forced to respond to that with some form of retaliatory action”.

Mr Coveney said it was not “helpful” to expand on what form that might take, but that a response “would be very negative”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said “there is a real and urgent obligation now” for Britain to engage with the European Commission “in a real and professional way to resolve issues that have been raised”.

Powersharing

Ahead of talks between Mr Johnson and Northern Irish political leaders aimed at restoring powersharing at Stormont, Sinn Féin’s northern leader Michelle O’Neill said unilateral action would “represent an appalling attack on the international rule of law”.

“Only through joint agreement with the EU can solutions to problems or concerns be resolved,” she said.

“I will be telling Boris Johnson that unilateral action deepens political instability and economic uncertainty and must not happen.”

Ms O’Neill is to meet Mr Martin in at Government Buildings Dublin on Monday morning ahead of her meeting with Mr Johnson.

Mr Coveney travels today to Brussels for a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council and will later speak with EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic and British foreign secretary Liz Truss, who is expected to announce legislation on Tuesday that will unilaterally override central elements of the protocol.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Coveney said Mr Sefcovic is open to making “significant progress” on the protocol.

“I believe there are solutions we could pursue and we can agree relatively quickly if there was an attitude to do so on both sides,” he said. “But we need a partner in London to do that, not a partner that is making threats of unilateral action.”

Envoy

The Minister also said he believes it is “likely” that US president Joe Biden will appoint an envoy to the North, saying the US administration is “extremely interested” in marking 25 years since the Belfast Agreement next year with “its institutions intact and functioning as they need to be”.

Mr Johnson is expected to affirm his commitment to the agreement and assert that he is not seeking to scrap the protocol. But Downing Street said ahead of his meetings with the North’s party leaders that he will not drop his government’s threat to unilaterally disapply parts of the protocol, which Mr Johnson agreed with the EU in 2019.

Downing Street said in a statement that Mr Johnson will tell party leaders that the door will always be open to “genuine dialogue” but that “there will be a necessity to act” and protect the Belfast Agreement if the EU does not change its position.

Writing in Monday’s Belfast Telegraph, Mr Johnson outlined that the protocol “has not been adapted to reflect the realities of the [Trade and Co-operation Agreement]”. He will signal that there is “without question a sensible landing spot in which everyone’s interests are protected”. However, he said that if the EU’s position does not change, “there will be a necessity to act”.


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