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Football news

Atalanta sign midfielder Ilicic

Slovenia midfielder Josip Ilicic has made a permanent move to Atalanta from Serie A rivals Fiorentina, the Bergamo-based club said yesterday.

The 29-year-old, who has won 44 caps for Slovenia, joined the Florentine club in 2013 after a three-year stint at Palermo, who were relegated from Serie A last season.

Ilicic, who made 30 league appearances and scored five goals last season, will help Atalanta, who qualified for the Europa League after ending fourth in the standings, with their return to Europe for the first time in 26 years.

Pepe leaves Real to join Besiktas

Portugal international Pepe (picture) has signed for Besiktas, the Turkish champions announced, bringing to an end 10 incident-packed years with Spanish giants Real Madrid.

The 34-year-old Brazilian-born defender joined Real from Porto in 2007 for 30 million euros ($34.05 million), winning the La Liga title in his first campaign.

His contract with Real expired last month and, according to reports in the Turkish media, he will sign a two-year contract with Besiktas.

He leaves Real after winning three La Liga titles, two King’s Cup trophies and following three Champions League triumphs, although he missed this year’s European Cup final victory against Juventus due to injury.

Naughton commits to Swansea

Swansea City defender Kyle Naughton has signed a new three-year contract that will keep him at the Premier League club until 2020.

Naughton, 28, has made 71 appearances for the Welsh club since joining in 2015 and had a year left on his contract before signing a two-year extension.

The former Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United right back made 34 appearances for the Swans last season as the club escaped relegation with four wins in their last five league games. 1

Huddersfield complete three signings

Premier League club Huddersfield Town have signed forward Steve Mounie and midfielder Danny Williams, while Kasey Palmer has re-joined the side on a season-long loan from champions Chelsea.

Benin international Mounie, 22, signed from French side Montpellier on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee after scoring 15 goals in 38 games last season.

Free agent Williams, 28, left Reading at the end of last season after four years with the Championship side. He played 45 matches last campaign as the Royals finished third but lost the play-off final to Huddersfield Town.

Skipper fined for snubbing ref

Guangzhou Evergrande captain Zheng Zhi has been fined 100,000 yuan ($14,716) by the club for not leading his players to an end-of-game handshake with the referee following Sunday’s Chinese Super League defeat at Tianjin Quanjian.

The six-times Chinese champions lost 4-3 to suffer a first league defeat in 13 games as the Fabio Cannavaro-coached Tianjin ended Evergrande’s 11-game winning run.

The defeat saw Guangzhou’s lead over Shanghai SIPG reduced to a point. “We always require players and coaches to pay full respect to our opponents and to referees,” Guangzhou said.

Rangers lose tax court case

Rangers have lost their long-running dispute over a tax avoidance scheme after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

Lord Hodge announced in court that five Supreme Court judges had unanimously dismissed an appeal by the liquidators of oldco Rangers.

HMRC had lost two earlier tribunal hearings over the Employee Benefit Trust scheme before a ruling in their favour in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in November 2015.

About £50 million was paid to dozens of Rangers players and staff through an EBT scheme administered by the Murray Group, then majority shareholder of the Glasgow club, from 2001 to 2009.

The club contended these should be classified as loans but HMRC insisted they were taxable earnings.

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