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Troubled striker Nile Ranger has left Newcastle after his contract was cancelled by mutual consent. The 21-year-old was released on bail in late January after being arrested on suspicion of rape.

The England Under-19 international has recently had running battles with Newcastle supporters via social networking site Twitter, but last night he used his account simply to say, “I’m happy”.

Fifa plans new body to combat racism

FIFA will set up a task force to tackle racism in football, Sepp Blatter said last night. Blatter, in Edinburgh ahead of the International FA Board meeting today, said the task force will be headed by Jeffrey Webb, president of the CONCACAF federation of countries in north and central America and the Caribbean. The Fifa president will also meet AC Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng on 22 March to discuss ways of tackling racism in football.

Villa report reduced losses of £17.7m

Aston Villa suffered a reduced loss of £17.7 million for the year ending 31 May, 2012, the club have confirmed. This compares with a deficit of £53.9m for the previous year. Villa reduced their loss despite a fall in turnover of £11.6m. A 16th-placed finish in the Premier League, fewer live TV games, lower crowds and early exits from both domestic cups resulted in the drop in turnover.

Barca blow as Xavi misses El Clasico

Barcelona midfielder Xavi will miss their trip to play Real Madrid in La Liga this weekend and will be out of action for ten to 15 days with a hamstring injury. The Spain playmaker had a relapse of a muscle problem when Barca were knocked out of the King’s Cup by Real on Tuesday. The leaders travel to the Bernabeu today with a 12-point advantage over second-placed Atletico Madrid and a

16-point gap on Real in third.

Sako strikes late as Wolves fight back

Bakary Sako’s 93rd-minute equaliser earned ailing Wolves a 1-1 draw with Watford at Molineux last night and put a dent in the visitors’ promotion charge. The game’s defining moment of brilliance looked to have come just before half-time as Watford playmaker Almen Abdi converted a delightful free-kick for his tenth goal of the season. But Sako’s well-taken injury-time equaliser drew welcome celebrations from a frustrated Wolves crowd.

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