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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

Man City is "close to being awarded a Major League Soccer expansion franchise" in Queens, N.Y., for a record $100M, according to Scott Soshnick of BLOOMBERG. Man City would be called the New York City Football Club, and has contacted David Beckham about a role. Man City will "explore other leagues around the world, seeking a way to expand its brand." Man City will "pay more than two times the previous record for an MLS team." MLS spokesperson Dan Courtemanche said that the league has "held discussions with a number of possible ownership groups and that no expansion agreement has been completed." MLS Commissioner Don Garber said last month the league was “at the finish line” in negotiations with N.Y. City officials on the league’s plan to build a 25,000-seat home for a new team based in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, east of Manhattan. Garber said the league was talking to a “wide variety” of potential owners, declining to name them (BLOOMBERG, 12/15).

MAN CITY DENIES REPORT: In London, Neil Rowlands reported Man City has "rejected talk they are in discussions" to buy an MLS team based in N.Y. Man City officials have "distanced themselves from the talk." In a statement, Man City said, "Manchester City are not buying an MLS club" (MIRROR, 12/15). In Manchester, Mike Keegan reported Man City has "knocked down reports" that they are close to paying $100M to create an MLS team and hiring Beckham for a role (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 12/15).

Brasileiro club Corinthians' marketing department revealed that fans spent R$200M ($95.9M) with the team's official airline for packages to attend the FIFA Club World Cup finals in Japan, according to Erich Betting of MAQUINA DO ESPORTE. Close to 30,000 fans have made the trip to Japan and bought travel packages through the club. Corinthians Marketing Dir Caio Campos said, "Just so you have an idea, we are in the biggest hotel in Tokyo, with 1,400 rooms, and 800 of those rooms are booked for us" (MAQUINA DO ESPORTE, 12/16).

FANS' STORIES 'CRAZY': In London, Matt Hughes wrote the sight of  "exuberant Corinthians fans bouncing around the otherwise sterile streets of Yokohama is remarkable in itself, and becomes even more so when you hear the stories behind some incredible adventures." Corinthians Sporting Dir Edu explains that cars have been sold, money collected on street corners and beds borrowed from strangers in order to "facilitate the trip of a lifetime." Edu said, "Corinthians is a club like no other in the world, but the fans are poor people. They sell cars to come here, they borrow money from the bank to come here. If you hear the stories of the guys that follow the team, it’s crazy." He added, "I saw this guy stood outside our stadium. He said: 'Edu, can I borrow five Real ($2.4) or ten Real ($4.8). I am borrowing money to go to Japan.’ He was borrowing money from everybody and writing down exactly what everyone had given him, so he could pay them back" (LONDON TIMES, 12/15). CNN's James Montague wrote 30,000 Corinthians fans had turned up in Nagoya, "bathing the city in black and white." Corinthians fan Marcos Nunes said, "Corinthians is like a nation, a religion ... people are borrowing money from banks, from relatives to come here. They are quitting their jobs, selling their bikes, their cars, even their fridges. It's true. My boss knows I'm here. But even if he didn't we'd still be here ... If we have to go to Japan OK. If we have to go to Chelsea to play at Stamford Bridge, OK. We'll be 30,000 there." More than 200,000 Brazilians live in Japan and the Japanese government "issued record numbers of visas to Brazilians for the tournament" (CNN, 12/14).

Russia football officials speculate a football Super League "featuring the best teams from Russia and Ukraine could be launched in '14," according to RUSSIA TODAY. The idea of starting something similar to ice hockey’s KHL in football was first voiced by Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller and it "seems to be gaining popularity among Russia’s top football officials." The replacement for the Russian Premier League is "primarily aimed at attracting more interest in the competition and consequently increasing the clubs’ revenue to help them meet new UEFA financial fair play rules." CSKA Moscow President Evgeny Giner suggested the league’s first season could be played in '14-15 at the earliest. Representatives of Zenit St. Petersburg, Anzhi Makhachkala and the Russian Premier League "also backed the plans." A study group is "expected be set up by the end of the year" to design a format for the new league and decide which countries should be included. Contrary to some earlier reports, Russian football bosses said that the new league would "neither be a championship for the CIS union of post-Soviet states, nor a franchise system like basketball’s NBA or ice hockey’s NHL" (RT, 12/14).