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West Ham’s move to Olympic Stadium not just hammer blow for Leyton Orient, it will challenge balance of power in London

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BY JOHN GUBBA

Whether or not they take full advantage of the opportunity that has been granted to them remains to be seen, and there is still a legal challenge to be considered. But there is no avoiding the facts.Handing the keys to the Olympic Stadium to West Ham United will change the face of football in the Capital.

Whichever way you break this down, there is no escaping the fact that the Hammers will be paying just £15 million pounds for the keys to an iconic stadium with a 54,000 capacity and that could catapult the East End club into Champions League contention.

Purely based on capacity, that will give the Hammers the potential for more matchday revenue than Chelsea or Spurs. It will also put them close to being on a par with Arsenal, who invested £390 million pounds in building the 60,000 seater Emirates Stadium and have consequently struggled to hold off the challenge of neighbours Tottenham as the dominant force in North London.

It remains to be seen if West Ham fans, and most do not want to leave the Academy of Football at Upton Park, will fill the Olympic Stadium. By the time the Hammers are scheduled to take up residence in 2016 they may be watching a team back in the Championship.

Getting keys to Olympic Stadium better than winning the lottery every week for the next year

Getting keys to Olympic Stadium better than winning the lottery every week for the next year

But owners David Gold and David Sullivan, and vice-chairman Karren Brady, in agreeing such an advantageous deal with the London Legacy Development Corporation, have been handed a golden ticket that is better than winning the lottery every week for the next year.

As far as business deals go it is pure genius because when the new owners took control the club was in financial meltdown. Now there is an extremely bright future ahead if the Hammers can build on the solid foundations that have been put in place and continue to make progress on the pitch.

If West Ham play their cards right they could be knocking on the door of the Champions League within the next five years. But there is still much that can go wrong with this master plan and much will depend on the legal challenge  being mounted by neighbouring Leyton Orient owner Barry Hearn.

There is something obscene about the ruthless way the League One club have been dismissively brushed aside by the LLDC. And you have to ask why London Mayor Boris Johnson has been so vocal in his support of West Ham at the expense of both Leyton Orient, who want to ground share, and Tottenham.

The financial facts are simple. The Olympic Stadium has been paid for by the public, the total bill topping £600 million pounds. The cost of extending the roof and adding retractable seats could be as much as £190m. And all but West Ham’s £15 million contribution is coming from the tax payer.

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While Tottenham have the financial resources to search for an alternative, West Ham’s move – and whichever way you break down the figures they are getting it on the cheap – looks like a death sentence for the Os. It is hard to ignore the complaints by Hearn who quite rightly argues his small club are being trampled on.

Hammers fans want to stay at The Academy of Football

Many Hammers fans want to stay at Upton Park: The Academy of Football

“It is a mess, the whole thing has been a mess for the last six years, horribly handled by lots of different people,” said Hearn in an interview with London’s Evening Standard. “We are at the point where we are seeing if the club that is 750 yards away from the Olympic Park are being abused, ignored and sledge-hammered by a massive club.

“We think they have over-stretched their mark and the taxpayer will have something to say about it, but in the meantime we want to preserve the independence and existence of Leyton Orient Football Club.

“It is unbelievable, I remember four or five years ago one of the Olympic organisers said the tenancy of the Olympic Stadium would be decided four months from that point.

“Although West Ham have been confirmed as the tenants, there are still so many questions that need to be asked.It looks to me like there has been a deal done through a back-door somewhere and I have plenty of questions that need to be answered.

“Newham Borough Council have come up with £40million and in the difficult world when you are closing hospitals and libraries and putting people out of work, is this the right money to spend? West Ham are selling Upton Park but only contributing £15million to the stadium, should they be given a free home like this? I’m just asking a question.

“It does seem unfair that Arsenal and Tottenham are spending hundreds of millions of pounds on their own stadiums because they are stand-alone commercial enterprises and West Ham are being levered at huge discount and you have to ask yourself the question why. What has gone on for them to get that deal?”

Hearn is banking on a judicial review in his favour that will force the LLDC and West Ham to discuss the idea of ground-sharing. Whatever the outcome, questions will be asked by the public and the media for years to come.

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HOW CITY’S STUBBORN BRINKMANSHIP SCUPPERED CARLOS TEVEZ SALE TO CORINTHIANS

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Tevez says he wants to return to South America to be closer to his family and his two young daughters.

Tevez says he wants to return to South America to be closer to his family and his two young daughters.

BUY NOW - Man City Match of the 70s DVD Man City Match of the 70s DVD - click to BUY NOW

UPDATE: 20 July 2011 – Is anyone surprised that City’s decision to move the goalposts scuppered the deal which fell through when the Brazilian transfer deadline passed. You can’t blame Corinthians for refusing to be held to ransom after City had announced the deal was agreed. Now Tevez and City are in limbo. Watch this space!

BY JOHN GUBBA

For a club boasting to be the richest in the world, it does appear rather unseemly that Manchester City are using Wednesday’s transfer deadline in Brazil to squeeze every last penny out of the sale of their skipper to his former club Corinthians.

On Sunday, City boss Roberto Mancini announced a deal had been reached for the 27-year-old –  City had previously rejected a bid of £39 million – with only personal terms still to be agreed. But 48 hours before the transfer deadline in Brazil, Corinthians revealed City had moved the goalposts and want more money for Tevez, who previously played for the Sao Paulo club from 2004 to 2006.

The truth is that City, accustomed  to getting their own way since Sheikh Mansour bought the club in 2008, are finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that that even their mega riches do not guarantee keeping their best player. It is a bitter pill to swallow and the Eastlands club  do not like the taste.

Tevez divided Manchester when he made the controversial move from United to City. But you can not fault the Argentine’s commitment on the pitch and he has proved value for money ever since he arrived in England and kept West Ham in the Premier League.

KING CANTONA’S RETURN WILL CROWN TRIBUTE FOR SCHOLES THE GREATEST ENGLISH FOOTBALLER OF 21ST CENTURY

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Eric Cantona look forward to his return

Eric Cantona look forward to his return

BY JOHN GUBBA

How fitting that Paul Scholes – the outstanding English footballer of his generation – will be honoured by the return of Eric the King to Old Trafford.

Eric Cantona will coach the legendary New York Cosmos who take on Manchester United on Friday 5 August in the testimonial for the incomparable Scholes.

Cantona quit United in 1997 after winning four titles and two domestic doubles in his five seasons at the club.

“I am looking forward to returning to Old Trafford in my new role with New York Cosmos,” said Cantona.

“I wish to congratulate Paul for such an incredible career at Manchester United.”

Scholes, who announced his retirement in the wake of United’s Champions League final defeat by Barcelona, said: “I have spent my whole footballing life at Manchester United, so this will be an emotional farewell.

“I hope the fans enjoy the night, especially seeing the boss and Eric battling it out in front of the dugouts.”

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Paul Scholes the greatest English footballer of his generation

Paul Scholes the greatest English footballer of his generation

BIG SAM TELLS HAMMERS FANS WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR BUT IN THE END THE NEW WEST HAM BOSS WILL DO IT HIS WAY

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Can Big Sam deliver at the Academy of Football?

Can Big Sam deliver at the Academy of Football?

BY JOHN GUBBA

West Ham United fans will have to swallow their pride and their principles next season when new boss Sam Allardyce attempts to get the Hammers back into the Premier League at the first attempt.

Big Sam will earn a one million pound bonus – on top of his annual salary of £1.25 million – if he can deliver promotion. And anyone who expects the former Blackburn, Bolton and Newcastle boss to do it playing beautiful football is as deluded as FIFA’s  stubborn President Sepp Blatter.

The 56-year-old replaces Avram Grant, sacked minutes after West Ham’s relegation was sealed by a 3-2 defeat at Wigan Athletic last month, and Allardyce is too long in the tooth to change his footballing philosphy now. But do not underestimate the ability of the experienced boss who took Bolton into the Premier League and is well equipped to do the same with the Hammers.

Will Big Sam deliver any Hammers Classics? Click to buy the DVD

Will Big Sam deliver any Hammers Classics? Click to buy the DVD

“It is an honour to be the new manager of West Ham United. It is a fantastic club with a great tradition and loyal supporters who deserve to be in the Premier League. I can’t wait to begin pre-season training as I am determined to get this club back where it belongs,” says Allardyce.

“I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t think we could bounce straight back into the Premier League. More than that, I wouldn’t have contemplated the job if I didn’t think there was the opportunity to build something substantial at West Ham.”

The board have told Allardyce he has money to spend. But he knows his first test will be to win over Hammmers’ fans worried about the style of play he will adopt.

‘I know there will be West Ham fans asking whether I’m going to abandon the style of play that’s been the club’s heritage over the years,” admits Allardyce who was sacked by Blackburn mid-season because the board wanted to see more entertaining football.

“All I’ll say is it will be a tale of home and away. At Upton Park we’ll attempt to play the kind of passing game the fans want. We will aim to continue in the same way on our travels but we’ll also be tough, hard to beat and utterly resilient.”

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Right Hammerings - classic West Ham United action on DVD

Right Hammerings - classic West Ham United action on DVD

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MANCHESTER IS THE NEW MILAN: A CITY UNITED AS THE CENTRE OF THE FOOTBALLING UNIVERSE. CAN LIVERPOOL STRIKE BACK?

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A City United by a unique League and Cup double on the same day - but what a disgrace that the Premier League trophy was not presented to the Reds. Were they worried this would eclipse City's FA Cup win

A City United by a unique League and Cup double on the same day – but what a disgrace that the Premier League trophy was not presented to the Reds. Were they worried this would eclipse City’s FA Cup win

BY JOHN GUBBA

Welcome to the dawning of a new era with the City of Manchester now well and truly the centre of the footballing universe. And mark my words this is great news for United because there is nothing like a new challenge to keep you on your toes.

In case you needed a reminder the United are still the top dog, it was sweet irony that once again United eclipsed City on the day Roberto Mancini’s men claimed their first trophy in 35 years.

As City beat Stoke 1-0 at Wembley to win the FA Cup thanks to Yaya Toure’s late strike, United fans were already back in Manchester celebrating another Premier League triumph and a record-breaking 19th League title courtesy of their 1-1 draw at Blackburn secured by Wayne Rooney’s penalty.

Does anyone doubt Rooney's dedication to Man Utd now? After scoring the penalty that clinched the Reds' 19th Premier League title win, Wazza celebrated in bizarre fashion by shaving the number '19' into his chest and posting a photograph of it on Twitter.

Does anyone doubt Rooney’s dedication to Man Utd now? After scoring the penalty that clinched the Reds’ 19th Premier League title win, Wazza celebrated in bizarre fashion by shaving the number ’19’ into his chest and posting a photograph of it on Twitter.

But this was a day for Manchester to be United in celebration. Not just because the City can proudly boast the unique feat of winning two trophies on the same day. It is great for Manchester to be the undisputed Mecca of fooball. Even Milan can no longer match the glamour of England’s hotbed of football. And the odds are that the new intensity is here to stay.

I remember the end of the 60s when United and City last dominated football in this country. It was great for both clubs. And this time that great rivalry can last much longer than it did back in the days of Best, Law, Charlton and Lee, Bell, Summerbee.

With Liverpool getting their act together under the legendary Kenny Dalglish, what are the odds on the North-West giants occupying the top three positions in the Premier League next season and eclipsing the fading stars of Chelsea and Arsenal.

My bet is that Sir Alex Ferguson’s record-breakers will face a rejuvenated challenge from Liverpool next season as the Merseysiders seek to match United’s 19th League title. When Chelsea frivolously handed the Pool £50million for Fernando Torres Dalglish invested the money wisely and now has a good mix of established stars and exciting upcoming youngsters.

But the real fascination will be how much ground can neighbours City make up on Fergie’s champions after ending their 35 year wait for a trophy to add to their qualification for the Champions League.

There is no doubt City must spend another vast fortune if they want to rival the Reds at the top table. But that will be harder said than done despite their untold riches and their Champions League status.

The reason is the introduction of UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play rules.

Michel Platini has warned that the likes of big-spending Manchester City and Chelsea, and some of Europe’s biggest clubs, will have to ‘face the music’ if they do not comply with the new FFP regulations.

UEFA’s latest figures show that financial problems affecting European clubs are getting worse, with spending on player wages up almost 10 per cent – and increasing at a faster rate than income.

Under their new rules, clubs will face possible bans from European competition from the 2014/15 season if they spend more than they earn in the three years before.

Sir Alex Ferguson hugs Ryan Giggs as United celebrate record 19th title - both have won an unprecedented 12 Premier League trophies

Sir Alex Ferguson hugs Ryan Giggs as United celebrate record 19th title – both have won an unprecedented 12 Premier League trophies

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Can Liverpool strike back? Kenny Dalglish with Andy Carroll (left) and Luis Suarez

Can Liverpool strike back? Kenny Dalglish with Andy Carroll (left) and Luis Suarez

NOT ONLY HAS FERGIE "KNOCKED LIVERPOOL OFF THEIR BLOODY PERCH" – HE’S THE GREATEST FOOTBALL MANAGER EVER

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All salute Sir Alex Ferguson - the greatest football manager of all time

All salute Sir Alex Ferguson – the greatest football manager of all time

BY JOHN GUBBA

OK it’s never over until the Fat Lady sings and Manchester United still need one more point to confirm that record-breaking 19th title that will finally achieve Sir Alex Ferguson’s mission of “knocking Liverpool off their bloody perch.”

But the party has already started – and no one will stop The Red Devils now after a pulsating 2-1 win against Chelsea that will deservedly bring the Premier League trophy back to Old Trafford.

The really big question now  is can United crown arguably Fergie’s greatest ever season by beating Barcelona at Wembley to win the Champions League? With Ryan Giggs playing the best football of his career, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez an unstoppable force, and the brilliant Edwin Van Der Saar playing behind  the best back four in Europe, United have the ammunition to end the season with the ultimate victory.

And that will make a mockery of the critics who keep telling us this is not a great United team. While other clubs have squandered millions, United’s miracle worker has quietly re-built yet another team capable of winning everything. And it’s the unerring longevity of the Glaswegian that makes him so special.

When Ferguson famously arrived at Old Trafford 25 years ago and said his aim was to emulate Liverpool as the most prolific club in England, this is what he was talking about. Remarkably, when United complete the Premier League formalities, this will be Fergie’s 12th title. United’s previous seven titles came between 1908 and 1967.

Not only has the greatest football manager of all time achieved yet another impossible dream. But once again he has made fools of the Southern-biased media who can’t wait to see him fail.

Seven months ago Chelsea looked odds-on to retain the Premier League title and the prophets of gloom were writing off Manchester United and their manager as a spent force. But then came Fergie’s masterful handing of the Wayne Rooney saga that – as I predicted at the time – re-ignited United’s latest trophy haul.

At a time when the stakes have never been higher and other football clubs have much bigger budgets than the Red half of Manchester, United have proved why they are the greatest football club on the planet. If United can add victory over Barca on May 28 no one will be able to deny that Fergie is simply the best.

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HISTORY BECKONS – VICTORY FOR MANCHESTER UNITED OVER CHELSEA MEANS RECORD TITLE NUMBER 19

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BY JOHN GUBBA

There is much more than the Premier League title at stake when Manchester United face down defending champions Chelsea in the mother of all showdowns at The Theatre of Dreams on Sunday.

When Sir Alex Ferguson famously arrived at Old Trafford 25 years ago and said he’d arrived to knock Liverpool off their perch this is what he was talking about. A record breaking 19th League title will see The Red Devils finally eclipse their Merseyside rivals.

The football world asked themselves who was this crazy Glaswegian who thought he could achieve what seemed an impossible feat when he made his proud boast all those years ago.

“How long did this guy think he was going to be in the job,” says former England boss Graham Taylor, a reaction that was pretty much the universal response from everyone in the game.

But here we are a quarter of century later and the last man standing who can stop Fergie achieving that impossible dream is Carlo Ancelotti manager of a resurgent Chelsea side who have clawed back a 15 point deficit to stand just three points behind the League leaders with three matches remaining.

Fergie must get past Ancelotti to claim United's record-breaking 19th title

Fergie must get past Ancelotti to claim United's record-breaking 19th title

Victory for the Blues will put them top on goal difference with two to play. But any other result will surely put United on the road to the prize that United fans want above all other.

It s going to be a classic content, the occasion guarantees that it will be something special. And how great will it be for Fergie to effectively secure the record 19th title with victory over Ancelotti in front of a full house at Old Trafford – not to mention 600 million homes around the globe.

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MOURINHO WINNING MIND-GAMES: BUT WILL LIONEL MESSI OR CRISTIANO RONALDO BE TOP DOG AT THE BERNABEU?

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BY JOHN GUBBA

Guardiola v Mourinho

Tonight’s first installment of the Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Barcelona is going to be fascinating. And if it’s half as fierce as the pre-match mind-games it’s going to be another El Classico.

In one corner we have Madrid boss Jose Mourinho insisting: “I am not asking the referee to help my team. If the referee is good everyone will be happy – except Guardiola. He wants them to get it wrong.This is something I have never seen in the world of football.”

While the Barca boss hit back with an uncharacteristic foul-mouthed tirade declaring: “In the press room he is the [expletive] chief. He is the [expletive] man. I try not to play the game off the pitch.” Added Pep Guardiola: “He’s much better than me at it. I represent an institution that believes this is not the best way to do things.”

On the pitch it’s Lionel Messi v Cristiano Ronaldo. Can’t wait for the kick-off at the Bernabeu.

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WHY JOSE MOURINHO WILL WAIT FOR SIR ALEX FERGUSON TO RETIRE BEFORE HE RETURNS TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

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Mourinho wants to be Manchester United boss

Mourinho wants to be Manchester United boss

BY JOHN GUBBA

Jose Mourinho’s declaration that he will return to manage in the Premier League one day guarantees the self-appointed “special one” will be linked with every top job until he is “back home”.

The big question is ‘Where will Mourinho end up?’ The truth is you can make a compelling case for the current Real Madrid boss to take the helm at any of the EPL’s Big Six.  But my belief is that the Portuguese maestro will wait for the top job, and the chance to succeed his good friend Sir Alex Ferguson – for the next couple of years at least.

There is no guarantee Mourinho will even get the job. There is a question mark over whether or not he can deliver the swashbuckling football United fans and their history demand. There is no sign of Sir Alex being ready to step aside as he closes in on the possibility of his greatest ever season in his 70th year.

Yet there is an aura and intoxicating self-belief about Mourinho that makes him absolutely perfect for United. And the very doubt about whether or not he could deliver at the world’s biggest and most famous club is precisely why the man at Madrid has his eyes on Old Trafford.

I’m not convinced Mourinho will get the chance to prove himself  any time soon. Fergie has the hunger and desire to go on indefinitely. And how can anyone follow the most successful football manager in the history of the game? But I can’t think of anyone better equipped to take on the hardest job in football.

When Roman Abramovich forced Mourinho out of Chelsea, he made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. And despite his affection for his time at Stamford Bridge, the devil in Mourinho would give him immense satisfaction to come back to the Premier League and rub the Russian’s nose in the billionaire’s miserable failure to understand that some things money just can’t buy.

With Carlo Ancelotti joining the long list of Chelsea managers failing to win the Champions League, the Italian is vulnerable despite winning the Double last year, because this season will end trophy-less.  As I predicted on transfer deadline day – if Chelsea fail to finish in the top four – Ancelotti will pay the price for the crazy 50 million pound signing of Fernando Torres. He may already be a dead man walking.

Either way do not expect Mourinho to rush back to Chelsea. He has already strongly rejected suggestions he will replace Roberto Mancini at Eastlands, whether or not Manchester City fail to end their 35 year wait for a trophy and miss out on a Champions League place.

Spurs will want Mourinho to replace Redknapp

Spurs will want Mourinho to replace Redknapp

Tottenham will undoubtedly make another move for Mourinho – who has previously turned them down on at least one occasion – when Harry Redknapp becomes the next England manager.

He will also be top of the list at Liverpooland Arsenal, should Kenny Dalglish step down or Arsene Wenger finally run out of time.  Arsenal’s last trophy was the 2005 FA Cup and Liverpool have never won the Premier League.

Unless Fergie delivers another Treble next month and decides to bow out in style – and even then I think he will want to carry on – I expect Mourinho to bide his time and remain in Madrid for another season at least.

In the meantime, what are the odds now on my prophecy coming true and Fergie having to conquer Mourinho’s Madrid at Wembley to win the Champions League?

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DELICIOUS IRONY AS OUTCLASSED CHELSEA BLAME REFEREE – AND MATCHWINNER ROONEY AT HIS IMPERIOUS BEST

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BY JOHN GUBBA

AFTER all the hysterical criticism of Wayne Rooney over the past few days Chelsea felt the full force of Manchester United’s genious No.10 who was at his imperious best in tonight’s titanic Champions League quarter-final first leg at Stamford Bridge.

The game was decided by a dream goal that represented everything great about the beautiful game when Michael Carrick found Ryan Giggs with the accuracy of a quarter-back and the  Welsh wizard set up Rooney with an outstanding first touch and inch perfect lay-off that was steered home with inch-perfect precision.

But there was a lot more about this majestic performance than a golden strike that gave United the precious away goal and the victory they craved. After a run of four straight defeats on the ground where the Reds have every right to believe results went against because of poor refereeing decisions, Sir Alex Ferguson’s men dug deep to deliver a display of true grit and pure quality.

How ironic that Chelsea ended the night blaming the Spanish referee for refusing to award a debatable penalty in the dying second when Patrice Evra challenged Ramires.

How the Sun reported tonight's Champions League winner by Wayne Rooney

How the Sun reported tonight's Champions League winner by Wayne Rooney

The difference this time – regardless of whether or not referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco got this one right – is that  the best team on the night won the match, unlike the previous contests that went against a dominant United team when Chelsea received blatant assistance from errors by the match officials.

From start to finish tonight Manchester United were a cut above a disjointed Chelsea side that inexplicably opted for Fernando Torres at the expense of the Didier Drogba-Nicolas Anelka partnership that is clearly heir best partnership.

Torres started with Drogba and finished alongside Anelka. He hit the post and saw a header denied by a great save from Edwin Van Der Saar. But in the end the Spaniard’s shabby attempt to con a penalty out of the referee when he clearly dived in he box probably counted against Chelsea when Ramires’ late appeal for a spot kick was a borderline decision that for once went against the home side.

No one is foolish enough to believe other than this titanic struggle is still all to play for in the second leg. But United are now the favorites for next Tuesday’s conclusion at The Theatre of Dreams. And as Fergie underlined tonight it’s the aura of Old Trafford and what will be a fever pitch atmosphere created by United’s fans that will count just as much as that first leg lead.

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