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SBD Global/August 14, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
After two seasons of toiling in the second tier of French football, AS Monaco marked its return to the elite Ligue 1, according to Joshua Robinson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The club is one of the few teams in French football history "to earn promotion to the top tier one season and immediately have title aspirations the next." The reason is that Monaco "was acquired by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev." The takeover, combined with the principality's status as a tax haven, "has put the club in tug-of-war" with the French football authorities, which believe "the club now has an unfair financial advantage." Monaco's "biggest battle this year won't be for silverware." It "will be for the right to play in France at all." Unless the club relocates its tax base to France, the league "has threatened to suspend it from next June, sparking a debate over attitudes to foreign investment" in French football. Monaco "prepared for its return to the top tier by splashing money around like few clubs can afford to do." Remolding its squad, it spent about $200M "on a list of players that included James Rodriguez and João Moutinho." The "dispute started after the league announced in March" that from the beginning of the '14-15 season, every club "would need to be based in France for tax purposes." Monaco "questioned the timing of this change." The club pointed out that "it just so happened to coincide with the club's promotion to the top tier for the first time since it acquired serious financial muscle" (WSJ, 8/12).
Former Scottish Second Division Rangers Dir Imran Ahmad is "set to launch" a £3.4M ($5.3M) legal action against the club, according to Gary Ralston of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Ahmad claims to have the support of former CEO Charles Green "in the fight for bonuses and legal costs he says he is owed." In a "document sent to the Rangers board by Ahmad on July 22," Ahmad claims that Green "has agreed to stand up in court and support him in any cash battle with the club." Finance Dir Brian Stockbridge admitted the £22M ($34M) raised "from a stock market flotation only eight months ago has gone" and there is £10M ($15.5M) in the bank. The club coffers "could now be raided further still by Ahmad." Ahmad has told the Rangers board that "he might be willing to settle" for a compromise sum of £500,000 ($772,500), plus legal fees, "to avoid a High Court battle." That would "still hit Rangers hard," with Stockbridge admitting more than £3M ($4.6M) of the flotation cash "has already gone on legal, accounting and stockbroker's bills since December" (DAILY RECORD, 8/13).
The financial situation of the Sauber F1 Team "is becoming more and more dramatic," according to BILD. The team "is reportedly unable to pay many of its bills." And now, "the anticipated rescue through the help of Russian investors seems to be falling through." The board of directors of the National Institute of Aviation Technologies (NIAT) "has reportedly voted in overwhelming fashion" against the €400M ($530M) investment. Sauber "is therefore threatened with insolvency" (BILD, 8/13). SKY SPORTS reported "having admitted that they were strapped for cash earlier in the summer, the Swiss team announced last month that they hoped to forge partnerships" with the NIAT, the Investment Cooperation Int'l Fund and the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation. Speaking at last month's Hungarian Grand Prix, Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn said they had a "long-term deal" in place that would promote both Russian technology as well as the sport itself in that country. She added that the deal's "three pillars" would include a technological partnership with NIAT while they also sought to promote F1 in Russia in tandem with the planned grand prix in Sochi next year. All three agencies "have links to the Russian government, and it has also been reported that President Vladimir Putin has yet to give his consent to the partnerships" (SKY SPORTS, 8/13). Ö24 reported Sauber "was not available for comment on the issue." F1 "is currently in its summer break and the teams have to close their factories for two weeks" (Ö24, 8/13).
League Championship Sheffield Wednesday Chair Milan Mandaric "has confirmed he wants to sell the Championship club," according to SOCCERWAY. Mandaric took charge of Wednesday in '10 with the club "suffering financial difficulties following relegation to League One." While Mandaric "wishes to relinquish control of the club due to 'family and my business commitments,'" he also explained that "there are no offers currently on the table" (SOCCERWAY, 8/13). TEAMTALK reported Mandaric said that "talks are on-going with unnamed interested parties and that he would only do what was in the best interests of the club." Mandaric: "I am aware of the speculation regarding potential new investors. Speculation can be unhelpful but when your club is Sheffield Wednesday, these things will happen. People can now see this is a huge club on a sound financial base with one owner and that will always attract attention" (TEAMTALK, 8/13).