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Volume 6 No. 216


Football League Championship club Leeds United Chair Ken Bates has been "offered a second option" to sell his majority shareholding in the club to Middle East investors, according to Duncan Castles of THE NATIONAL. The club has been the subject of takeover discussions for more than 100 days and is regarded by students of football finance as the "last real franchise left to buy." It is understood that one of the members of the Middle East consortium has "gone solo and offered Bates an alternative package in which he would receive 50% of the purchase price now and remain in place at Elland Road as a consultant." The second part of the money would be paid when Bates decides to step down from the position. The Leeds United Supporters Trust has been trying to force Bates to sell his share in full, having launched a "Time For Change" campaign including the "use of advertising space immediately outside the stadium" (THE NATIONAL, 9/20).

Following ManU's record $559M sponsorship deal with General Motors, the football club is now "ready to play hard ball" with jersey-maker Nike, according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. ManU currently has a 13-year, £303M ($491M) contract with Nike, giving the company "control over the club's complete merchandise sales operations." ManU Exec Vice Chair Ed Woodward said, "We continue to believe that there will be an opportunity to reset our existing deal with Nike to market rates. There have been many changes to the world of football since this deal was negotiated in 2001." Woodward's optimism "may have been fueled" by the seven-year GM deal. ManU recently announced that its full-year revenue was down 3%, the first decline since the Glazer family purchased the club in '05. When ManU enters its exclusive negotiating period over a renewal with Nike in February, Woodward may "point to new entrants" in the football apparel market from the U.S. Online sporting good retailer Kitbag CEO Andy Anson said that Europe's leading teams are "no longer restricted to a choice between Nike or adidas." Anson: "The main impact of the new entrants, such as Warrior and Under Armour, has been to create a greater market for the clubs." Nike's deal with ManU is made up of "a minimum guarantee," with any additional revenue generated from retail sales split 50-50. How much more the company would be prepared to pay "depends on the business case." Nike Brand President Charlie Denson said, "it's their job to create demand for their product and that's what they're doing" (BLOOMBERG, 9/20).