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England cricketer Ben Stokes has been charged with affray after a fight outside a Bristol nightclub.

The 26-year-old and two men from Bristol are due to appear before magistrates at a future date.

Police investigated the incident and sent their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in November.

Stokes missed the Ashes series, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) saying he would not be considered for England "until further notice".

After being charged, he said: "I am keen to have the opportunity to clear my name."

A statement from the CPS said it received further material in late December.

"Following a review of all the available evidence, the CPS has today authorised the police to charge three men with affray in connection with the incident," it said.

"Ben Stokes, 26, Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26, are all due to appear before Bristol Magistrates' Court on a date to be fixed in relation to this charge."

The ECB says it will convene within 48 hours to decide on Stokes' availability to represent England.

Affray is a triable either-way charge, which means the case can ultimately be heard in either the magistrates' court or the crown court.

It carries a maximum penalty when tried summarily - in the magistrates' court - of a fine and/or up to six months in prison, and when tried on indictment - in the crown court - of up to three years in prison.

Stokes played six domestic matches in New Zealand in December.

He appeared in three one-day games and three T20s for Canterbury Kings after being cleared to play by the ECB.

The Durham all-rounder returned to the UK to spend Christmas with his family and has been given permission to take part in the Indian Premier League, which starts in April.

He was initially named in England's squad for the Ashes but did not travel to Australia for the series, which the hosts won 4-0.

Despite the ECB's reluctance to pick Stokes while the CPS decided whether to charge him, he was also included in the one-day squadfor the five-match series against Australia but again missed out.

He was also named in the England Test squad to tour New Zealand in March, although any potential involvement remained subject to legal or disciplinary developments.

Ben Stokes' statement
"I want to thank all those who have continued to support me in relation to the Bristol incident, not least my family, friends, fans and team-mates.

"I gave a full and detailed account of my actions to the police on day one - the same day as the incident - and have cooperated at each step of the police inquiry.

"I am keen to have an opportunity to clear my name but, on advice, the appropriate time to do this is when the case comes to trial.

"The CPS' decision to charge me, as well as Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, at least means that my account of what happened that night can come out in court and be made public.

"Until then, my focus is very much on cricket."

Ben Stokes timeline
25 September - Stokes and team-mate Alex Hales are involved in an incident at about 02:35 BST near Bristol's Mbargo club which left another man needing hospital treatment for facial injuries. Stokes is arrested by Avon and Somerset Police and released under investigation.

27 September - England include Stokes in their 16-man Ashes squad, despite him suffering a minor finger fracture on his right hand. Hales is not included.

27 September - The Sun newspaper releases footage that allegedly shows the incident involving Stokes and Hales.

28 September - The ECB announces Stokes and Hales will not be considered for selection for England matches until further notice.

11 October - Stokes loses his sponsorship deal with sportswear brand New Balance. Stokes apologises to Katie Price and her disabled son Harvey for a video that showed him imitating a TV clip of the youngster.

28 October - England fly out to Australia for the Ashes without Stokes.

23 November - England lose the first Ashes Test against Australia by 10 wickets in Brisbane.

27 November - The ECB issues a statement denying Stokes is joining England's squad after a picture is posted on Twitter which it is said shows him at Heathrow Airport.

29 November - Stokes arrives in New Zealand to play for Canterbury Kings.

29 November - Avon & Somerset Police announce they have completed their investigation and have sent their findings to the Crown Prosecution Service.

4 December - It is announced Hales will not face criminal charges, and the ECB says he is available for selection.

6 December - Stokes is named in England's one-day squad for the five-match series against Australia in the new year.

23 December - Stokes ends his spell with Canterbury and returns to England.

11 January - Stokes is named in England's Test squad for the tour of New Zealand in March and April.

Cyrille Regis, the former West Brom and England forward, has died at the age of 59. He has been described as "one of the great symbols of the fight against racism" and "a pioneer for black footballers" across the world. Here, his nephew, the former West Brom, Blackburn and Wigan striker Jason Roberts, pays his own touching tribute...

Cyrille Regis might have been a hero or a pioneer to many, but to me he was just my uncle.

Growing up as a young kid on the Stonebridge Estate in north London, I never realised what he did was so special. I just thought that all uncles played in the First Division and for England!

He was one of my three football-playing uncles, and when we all went round to my grandparents' house for Sunday dinner, he'd be there at the end of the table. He was no-one special, just one of us.

But there were several moments in my life where it struck me how big a star he was and how much he inspired people. In time, he proved to offer me the same inspiration - and for that I owe him so much.

The first example came when we almost moved to France because of him. Few might remember it but soon after signing for West Brom, he was offered a chance to join French club Saint-Etienne.

It was 1978, and at the time they were a huge team. They had just won three consecutive league titles and two years previously were in the European Cup final.

They wanted to sign Cyrille for £750,000 - which would have been a British transfer record - and there were aims for him to play for France too, as he was born in French Guiana.

The plan was for my mum to go over to France as his translator and I would have joined them. He came close to signing - apparently he had sleepless nights over the decision - but he felt English.

And he went on to be a West Brom and Coventry legend.

The player, the legend
I came to realise how much people were in awe of him when he lived with me and my mum while playing for Wycombe Wanderers a few years later. He stayed with us on the days he was training rather than going back and forth to Birmingham.

As I grew older and more aware, I just remember being very proud; proud that it was my uncle out on the pitch scoring those wonderful goals, proud that he was taking on the racists, and then just having time for his nephew.

I also recall getting the sense that his impact was bigger than football.

Every time I played football in the school playground, everyone wanted to be Cyrille Regis. At that difficult time, he showed there was a place for us in the game. He made us believe in ourselves, so how many others did he influence?

If uncle Cyrille could make it then why couldn't we?

Don't get me wrong, he was a big man, but when he went out on the pitch it's like he grew another five feet.

I heard all the stories about how he used to terrorise defences. He was so direct, so powerful and so exciting. His style of play stood out and not many could play in that fashion on a consistent basis.

 

How Cyrille shaped me
I learned a lot more about him when I signed for West Brom myself in 2000, for a then club record fee of £2m.

By then, Cyrille was my agent and came down to the unveiling at The Hawthorns, but the fans were more interested in getting his autograph than mine.

It made me laugh and was a recognition of how iconic he was at the club.

In public he was the star of the show, but it started to feel normal after a while. He was always so calm, measured and respectful - in many ways the opposite of me - and to do that after the sort of abuse he suffered shows the kind of man he was.

All of the bad decisions in my career were mine; all of the good ones were his. He used to tell me: "You can't say that to the manager. You can't just turn up and do as you please."

But it was never a player-agent relationship with me and him, it was just my uncle Cyrille advising me.

That went right back to the start when I was released by Chelsea at the age of 16 and I fell out of love with football.

Cyrille was the person that picked me up again and he got me a trial at Hayes FC by convincing the coach Alan Christopher to give me a go. He always encouraged me to play at any level because you never know what might happen. How sage that advice was.

Hayes was where he started his career and playing men's football at 18 gave him a chance to showcase his talent. It proved the same for me - after that I got a move to Wolves.

More importantly, I knew my uncle would always be on the end of the phone for anything offering his calm reassuring advice. I was very fortunate.

 

 

Cyrille's legacy
Cyrille understood his impact on the community and on social issues, but he never sought to gain benefit from it. It was just what he did and who he was - and that has left a lasting impact on me.

As a trustee of The Jason Roberts Foundation, he would often come back to The Pavilion in Stonebridge Estate where we grew up. He was there last week meeting people from the community and the young people who use the facilities.

There's no chance I would have had the belief in myself without Cyrille - from the inspiration of playing the game, to feeling there was a place for me in football, to having the belief that my ability could take me as far as I wanted to go.

To have him sit next to me to guide me through my career, my life and my transition out of the game - and he did it all just as my uncle - it doesn't get any better than that.

My family have been completely overwhelmed by the love and messages from everyone since his passing.

As he was to many people, he was our hero. But to me he was just my uncle.

 

 

 Manchester City have decided not to pursue their interest in signing Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.

The club have decided the cost of pursuing the 29-year-old would be prohibitively expensive.

Manager Pep Guardiola, the club's owner Khaldoon al Mubarak and other senior officials are all in agreement.

It is understood the wages being demanded by Sanchez would have put him ahead of all City's star men, something the club decided they would not do.

Manchester United are favourites to sign the Chile international after indicating they are willing to meet the Gunners' £35m asking price for the forward.

Sources with knowledge of the situation say they understand Chelsea are also interested in the player.

They claim the overall package being negotiated is higher than the £60m for which Arsenal agreed to sell Sanchez to City in the summer.

City still believe Sanchez would prefer to join them, given his past relationship with Guardiola and the fact he pushed to join them in the summer.

However, they view it as highly unlikely Sanchez will drop his financial demands to a level that would allow them to resume talks.

New Wales manager Ryan Giggs insists he will convince fans sceptical of his appointment with success on the field.

The Manchester United great, who has yet to decide on his backroom staff, was named as Chris Coleman's successor on Monday.

Some supporters questioned Giggs' commitment as a Wales player but he is determined to win them over.

"I'll do that by winning games. As long as I'm winning games those questions won't come up," he said.

"It's up to me to give it my all, which I will, my management team to give their all and also the players to make the country proud - just like they were two years ago at the Euros.

"I'm not on social media so I haven't seen much of the criticism. I know the criticism is going to come but the way to combat that is to win games.

"The beauty of football - everyone has an opinion. I took it as a player and now I have to take it as a manager. It's about striking that balance. All I can do is work as hard as I can to produce a winning team."

'Proudest moment of my life'
Giggs won 64 caps between 1991 and 2007 and captained his country - but he was criticised for regularly pulling out of squads and especially for missing friendly matches.

Before his appointment, former club and international team-mate Clayton Blackmore told BBC Sport Wales their former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had been responsible for the no-shows.

Giggs was in caretaker charge of the Red Devils for four games at the end of the 2013-14 season following the sacking of David Moyes and spent the next two seasons as Louis van Gaal's assistant at Old Trafford, but left after Jose Mourinho was appointed.

The 44-year-old was one of the most decorated footballers in the history of the sport - winning 13 Premier League and two Champions League titles among other honours - but ranks his appointment as Wales manager as his crowning achievement.

"I loved playing for my country and now is probably the proudest moment of my life to lead the Welsh nation into the next two to four years, with the Euros and then the World Cup," Giggs added.

"We haven't been in a World Cup since 1958. I want to get this group of players there and I want to be part of that."

Backroom staff yet to be decided
The other candidates interviewed for the job were former Wales forward Craig Bellamy, ex-assistant coach Mark Bowen and Osian Roberts, the Football Association of Wales' technical director and assistant to Coleman.

Giggs has yet to decide on the make-up of his backroom staff but plans to speak to Roberts as part of the process.

"That's something I need to think about over the next few days but I've got my ideas. Whoever it will be will give it their all," said Giggs.

"There's a conversation to be had. What Osh [Roberts] has done for Welsh football over the last few years and will continue to do in his technical director role - there's a conversation to be had. I know Osh, how he feels about Welsh football, the passion. We will be speaking in the near future."

 

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