SBD/Issue 29/Franchises

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  • Beckham Transfer Talks Ongoing, Contingent On Him Returning

    A senior MLS official said Galaxy MF David Beckham’s potential move to Italian Serie A club AC Milan is still at an "exploratory" stage and insisted that Beckham "will need to return for the start of the 2009 MLS season," according to Simon Evans of REUTERS. MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis, who has “final say on all player transactions,” said that the deal “will not go ahead unless the Galaxy are sure that Beckham will return for the opening of the season in March.” Gazidis: “We are in exploratory talks to look at whether the opportunity makes sense for the Galaxy and David. If it does -- and only if it does -- then things will go forward.” Gazidis added Beckham “would need to be back (for the MLS start), we are talking about a short term loan.” AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani said, “The deal isn’t completed yet. We have to decide on it all with his lawyers and with [the] Galaxy” (REUTERS, 10/23).

    GALAXY QUEST: In London, Nick Harris cites sources as saying that AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke has "given his blessing" to Beckham's loan to AC Milan, "if only because he hopes it will increase Beckham's chance of fulfilling his Galaxy contract." Sources said that Leiweke "has always accepted Beckham's England ambitions take precedence over the Galaxy." Harris writes Leiweke "would rather give Beckham leeway and increase his chances of keeping his most marketable asset than stand in Beckham's way, provoke conflict and maybe lose the player." Beckham "knows he is in a no-lose situation," and if the Galaxy "try to prevent his loan move -- and curtail Beckham's dream, as he sees it -- they face the prospect he might seek a permanent transfer." Harris notes the loan will be officially announced "when certain 'lawyer points' have been agreed," including AC Milan "paying Beckham's [US$129,500]-a-week wages during the loan period, and agreeing to specific and limited exploitation of Beckham's name and image rights" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/24).

    Many Feel Beckham Has Failed
    To Live Up To Hype In MLS
    ITALIAN VACATION: In London, Harry Rollins writes Beckham signing with the Galaxy and joining MLS "seemed like a match made in heaven: a fledgling league in need of a star and football's most bankable name." But by "almost every conceivable measure, Beckham has failed to set football alight in the US." Over the course of the '08 MLS season, Beckham "has done little to improve the Galaxy's miserable record on the pitch" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/24). In Toronto, Morgan Campbell wrote, "What will MLS get out of this loan besides a setback in their efforts to become a true major league and a winter filled with worry that their moneymaker might get hurt? ... They get to keep their highest-paid player happy by giving him exactly what he wants." Campbell: "If you were running [MLS], would you be the one to tell Beckham no?" (THESTAR.com, 10/23). SI.com's Gabriele Marcotti wrote for AC Milan, who "know how to turn star power into money," Beckham's loan is "a win-win." The worst-case scenario "is that he comes, trains with the team, plays a few games, generates some money and then leaves," while the best-case scenario "is that he makes a tangible contribution on the pitch and maybe even stays" (SI.com, 10/23).

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  • Lions Blacked Out In Detroit After Tickets Fail To Sell Out

    Lions Unable To Sell Out Game
    For First Time In Ford Field History
    Sunday's Redskins-Lions game at Ford Field "failed to sell out" by a Thursday deadline, and the game will not be broadcast on local TV in Detroit, marking the "first time since late in the 2001 season" and the first time at Ford Field that a Lions home game has been blacked out, according to Terry Foster of the DETROIT NEWS. No station "whose signal penetrates a 75-mile radius of Detroit may broadcast the game." The Lions, who are 0-6, said that they "sold 1,000 tickets in the 24 hours leading to Thursday's deadline but could not attract a major sponsor to buy the remaining 5,000 tickets." Previous Lions home games this season "avoided blackouts." Furniture store Gardner-White "bought the remaining tickets to ensure a sellout" for the September 14 Packers-Lions game, and fans "bought the final tickets in time" for the October 5 Bears-Lions game. Foster notes Lions fans "might get used to blackouts the rest of this season," as "plenty of seats remain for every game except the Thanksgiving game against the Titans." The last time the Lions failed to sell out a game was a December 30, 2001, game against the Bears at the Pontiac Silverdome (DETROIT NEWS, 10/24).

    FANS LOSING HOPE: In Detroit, Nicholas Cotsonika writes while "times are tough, especially in the Detroit area," if the Lions showed something, fans "would pay the high prices for tickets, parking, food and everything else that goes with going to an NFL game." Cotsonika: "It isn't apathy, either. ... There isn't declining interest in the Lions; there's declining interest in spending time and money to watch them in person. It isn't even the losing itself. ... The problem is hope" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/24). Lions QB Dan Orlovsky said of the team's failure to sell out Ford Field, "The economic situation's probably not helping it. We haven't done enough on our end to make these fans come out and watch games. And that's a reality." Lions OT Jeff Backus: "Fans come to the game to see a good product, to enjoy themselves and have fun watching a good football game. And we haven't been getting it done" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/24). ESPN’s Trevor Matich said of the Lions, “There has only been one constant the entire time and that’s been the owner and at some point, they have got to look at themselves and say, ‘You know, we’re the only constant in decades of futility. Maybe we’re doing something wrong.’ I’m not saying they should sell the team. They want to win, that’s why they make the changes that they do. I respect the fact that they want to win, but somehow some way they’ve got to turn it over to somebody else for the operations because right now they have not found that guy” (“Washington Post Live,” Comcast SportsNet, 10/23).

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  • Newcastle United Reportedly Close To Agreeing To Takeover Deal

    Ashley (c) Reportedly Nearing Deal
    To Sell Newcastle United For $468M
    English Premier League (EPL) club Newcastle United reportedly is "close to agreeing" to a US$467.5M takeover deal with Kuwait businessman Nasser Al-Kharafi, according to Emily Benammar of the London TELEGRAPH. Sources close to Al-Kharafi "believe a firm offer will be made" to Newcastle Owner Mike Ashley. The deal would be "channeled through an Abu Dhabi company, but Al-Kharafi will be the man behind it." A source said, "It is possible the deal could be done by next week" (London TELEGRAPH, 10/24).

    CHARLTON: The LONDON TIMES reports Dubai-based Zabeel Investments "has decided against pursuing its takeover" of English Coca-Cola Championship League club Charlton Athletic. Charlton Thursday in a statement confirmed the news, saying that Zabeel would instead "concentrate on domestic business opportunities." The news "will come as a blow to Charlton, who had reported debts" of US$31.2M. Zabeel, which also has been "linked with a takeover of Newcastle United," reportedly has "turned their attentions" to EPL club Everton. But Zabeel insisted that it is "no longer in the market for an English club" (TIMESONLINE.co.uk, 10/23).

    ARSENAL: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Tariq Panja reported EPL club Arsenal "remains confident of profit projections from a housing development at its old soccer stadium," and the club said that it "can withstand a 'pretty difficult time' as the U.K. faces recession." Arsenal "expects [US$564M] in profit" from the Highbury Square project, where "most of the 655 apartments marketed have been pre-sold, and 90 purchases completed have generated sales of [US$60.9M]." Arsenal in September announced that its debt rose to US$496.5M after the costs of converting Highbury. The Highbury debt "stands at [US$208.5M]." Arsenal Chair Peter Hill-Wood: "We are in constant talks with our bankers and any sale proceeds from now onwards will go towards paying our debt." Hill-Wood added that the "debt is 'ring-fenced' and not leveraged against Arsenal Holdings PLC's soccer assets." Hill-Wood said that Arsenal is "well placed to withstand the expected economic downturn" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/23).

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  • Seattle Unveils Tax Diversion Plan To Remodel Arena, Lure NBA

    Seattle Unveils Plan To Divert Hotel-Tax
    Money To Help Remodel KeyArena
    A new plan to "divert a portion of hotel-tax money from the state convention center to a remodel of KeyArena could help Seattle begin pursuing a replacement NBA team as soon as 2010," according to Thiel & Washburn of the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. NBA Commissioner David Stern Thursday said that "'positive' talks have gone on between the league and a potential ownership group headed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who led an ill-fated plan to save the Sonics earlier this year." Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis said that he is "optimistic that this time around the city's request for state authorization will meet little resistance when the Legislature convenes in January." Ceis: "If we can get our funding package together this session, we can start to work with the Ballmer group on identifying a team for Seattle, but probably not until 2010." A 7% tax on all Seattle hotel bills "long has been dedicated to convention center operations," but the city, "which is still negotiating with the hotel industry and center officials on the proposal, seeks to divert one-tenth of the revenue to Seattle Center and the KeyArena project." Ceis stressed that the city "would not go forward with the remodel until an ownership group secured a team." And Thiel & Washburn note since the NBA "has no current plans to expand domestically, the only option would be to relocate a team from another city" (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 10/24).

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