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Linesman struck by flare during Villa-Spurs match

An assistant referee has been struck by a flare fired from the away section during the first half of the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park.

David Bryan was hit by the flare as Spurs fans celebrated the game's opening goal, which was scored by England winger Andros Townsend in the 31st minute.

Replays showed assistant referee David Bryan being struck in the back of the neck by a flare fired from the away section. Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport
Mr Bryan was seen grimacing amid the blue smoke as Tottenham fans turned to see the culprit. Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport
Spurs defenders Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen checked on the official and the game resumed shortly afterwards. Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

New ratings battle kicks off as Premier League returns

Robin van Persie and Manchester United will bid to retain the title in David Moyes' first season at Old Trafford. Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

A challenge to the old order is expected as the new Premier League season kicks off - but off the pitch, with BT Sport taking on Sky for first day ratings.

The new contender paid £738 million for the rights to show 38 top-flight games a season for the next three years and has landed the first game of the 2013/14 season: the 12:45 kick off between Liverpool and Stoke City.

Sky has responded with a day of free football, with shows that normally go out on Sky Sports 1 being shown instead on Sky2 and Pick TV for free, including the later game between Swansea City and Manchester United.

BT hopes to break Sky's grip on armchair sports fans by enabling its broadband customers to watch the Premier League action for free.

It announced this week it had tripled its number of viewers to three million by signing a deal with Virgin Media.

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Meet the new coach of 'Tottenham Spurs'

Tottenham Hotspur have a new American manager, but White Hart Lane boss Andre Villas-Boas need not worry as Coach Ted Lasso is merely a fictitious character in an NBC advertising campaign.

The US TV network is using the all-American Lasso, played by comedian Jason Sudeikis, to help promote its football coverage ahead of tomorrow's Premier League kick-off.

And although Lasso's tactical knowledge is sketchy, he does trump Villas-Boas by managing to get Gareth Bale on the training pitch.

Read each club's Premier League preview on the ITV Football site

New Yorkers told to 'keep calm and pick Everton'

New York City subway trains have been kitted out with the colours of English football clubs ahead of the start of the new Premier League season this weekend.

Everton is one of six Premier League clubs featured in the adverts. Credit: Charles Guerin/ABACAUSA.COM

US TV network NBC has splashed out on the eye-catching advertising campaign to promote their Premier League coverage, after paying £161 million for US broadcast rights.

Merseyside rivals Liverpool and Everton are among the clubs featured on the train network's carriages, along with north London duo Tottenham and Arsenal.

Each train carriage is emblazoned with the crests of various football teams. Credit: Charles Guerin/ABACAUSA.COM

Champions Manchester United and neighbours Manchester City are also included in the campaign, with subway commuters urged to pick a team to support for the new season.

Passengers are faced with a choice between Liverpool and Everton. Credit: Charles Guerin/ABACAUSA.COM

The 2013/14 Premier League season begins tomorrow, with Liverpool's match against Stoke City kicking off the action at Anfield at 12.45pm.

Read each club's Premier League preview on the ITV Football site

Premier League star to contest motoring charges

Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote.
Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote. Credit: Jon Buckle/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Premier League star will contest charges that he used a false Belgian driving licence, and four other motoring offences, a court heard today.

Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote, 27, is accused of using a false document as a form of ID "to establish personal information" about himself in December.

The Ivory Coast international is also charged with committing fraud by using the allegedly false document to get a UK licence, also in December.

In addition, he is accused of making a false statement to obtain insurance in September 2011 by allegedly claiming that he held a full driving licence without endorsements.

He is further charged with driving his Chevrolet, with the personalised plate T10 TEV, in Newcastle in February without a licence or insurance.

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Premier League footballers 'earned £1.8bn last season'

Premier League footballers earned a total of £1.8 billion last season - an increase of 9% - according to accountancy firm Deloitte.

Manchester City were the highest paying club in the 2011/12 season. Credit: John Walton/EMPICS Sport

The earnings mark a huge increase on the £1.66 billion players made in the 2011/12 season and wages are set to rise even further as clubs make an extra £600 million in TV money.

The Premier League retains its status as the world's wealthiest domestic competition with its 20 clubs expected to earn more than £3 billion of revenues in 2013/14, an annual review by Deloitte predicted.

Manchester City was the best paying club in the Premier League during 2011/12, with wages of £202 million, while Swansea City was the lowest, handing its players £35 million.

Read: Going German? England reveal new home shirt

Roberto Martinez confirmed as Everton manager

Roberto Martinez enjoyed triumph and despair in his final weeks as Wigan manager. Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Everton have confirmed the appointment of Roberto Martinez as the football club's new manager after agreeing a four-year contract.

The Spaniard resigned from Wigan following their recent Premier League relegation, which came days after the team's remarkable FA Cup final victory over Manchester City.

Martinez succeeds David Moyes, who left Goodison Park to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Visit ITV Football for more on Martinez's appointment

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