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Volume 6 No. 212


A "new, mystery bidder has entered the frame" to become owner of  League Championship side Birmingham City, according to Colin Tattum of the BIRMINGHAM MAIL. The club's parent company, Birmingham Int'l Holdings Ltd., announced to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that they "had been approached by a sports management company." The identity of the company, and the consortium they are fronting, is "yet unknown" (BIRMINGHAM MAIL, 2/7). BLOOMBERG's Bob Bensch reported Birmingham Int'l Holdings said in a statement that "an unidentified sports management company indicated on Jan. 23 and Jan. 31 it would be able to lead a group that would consider buying the club." The statement read, "The company’s lawyers are currently in contact with the interested party with the view to clarifying matters of this approach" (BLOOMBERG, 2/7). The BBC reported former QPR Chair Gianni Paladini had "previously admitted his desire to lead a consortium to take over the club." Even though the club is not officially for sale, Blues Chair Peter Pannu revealed last November that they "were in talks with two parties interested in buying the club." Birmingham has not published its financial figures for the past two years, and major shareholder Carson Yeung is "awaiting trial in Hong Kong having been charged with money laundering" (BBC, 2/7).

Brasileiro club Internacional "took an important step in expanding its brand in the Asian market," according to Rodolfo Gomes of MAQUINA DO ESPORTE. Japanese representatives were received by Internacional's management "to work out the last details" of a partnership that will see the creation of football academies, known as "The Red Academy," in the Asian country. The first academy will open in April in the city of Akashi. The academy will initially work with 300 kids, and will eventually have a capacity of 500. By '14, the Brasileiro club hopes to have five academies in the country. Internacional Marketing Dir Jorge André Avancini said, "With this project, we want to form young fans and increase the revenue of the club in new markets." The club also hopes the initiative "will help in agreeing to new commercial agreements in the Asian market." Avancini said, "We certainly have this objective. We are not going on an adventure to Asia, we are going to stay" (MAQUINA DO ESPORTE, 2/7).

Administrators of League One Portsmouth said that "another offer has been made for the stricken club," according to the BBC. Accountants PKF said that former Football League Chair Keith Harris, investment banker Pascal Najadi and investor Alan Hitchins "have made the bid." The Pompey Supporters' Trust are PKF's "preferred bidders of the club." A PKF statement said, "We believe this offer is worthy of consideration and could be completed without the need for a court case." The statement added: "Keith Harris has indicated that he would like to meet with the PST to discuss a stakeholding and participation in the club going forward." Harris, who was part of the failed ManU bid by the Red Knights, has "brokered a number of takeover deals in football" including Randy Lerner's purchase of EPL Aston Villa. Harris is "proposing to become the club's new chairman" with former Swansea City Chair Steve Hamer appointed as managing director and John Redgate CFO (BBC, 2/7).

HARRIS EXCITED: In London, David Conn reported if Harris' bid succeeds, he said that he will leave his investment bank, Seymour Pierce, and "become the Portsmouth chairman." The bid's financial backers are Malaysian investment banker Pascal Najadi and Alan Hitchins, who is described as "a professional investor." Harris said that the men "are paying cash to buy Portsmouth." Harris: "I am really excited by this; it is the best opportunity to own a football club I have seen in years, and the fans are amazing. This club deserves to be owned by guys who love football." The PST "will be bitterly disappointed." One of its major concerns, beside the fact that it would "thwart mutual supporter ownership," is that Harris's bid will initially leave Portsmouth as "tenants of the ground." Under the deal proposed to the administrator, Fratton Park will be handed back to Portsmouth's previous owner, Hong Kong-based Balram Chainrai. Harris has agreed to a deal with Chainrai for Portsmouth to rent Fratton Park from Portpin, with an option to buy it outright, which Harris said that he "intends to do quickly after taking ownership of the club, although he will not commit yet to a firm date" (GUARDIAN, 2/7).

Premiership rugby side London Wasps are "on the brink of securing significant funding" from a single multi-millionaire investor. The "vital cash injection" could well come from an overseas-based businessman who has no previous connection with the club but does own property in London (RUNNING RUGBY, 2/7). ... Manchester FA has been recognized for its work in fighting prejudice in football, which will be acknowledged at the FA Full Council in April. National Game Head Kelly Simmons has "lauded MCFA's achievement and hailed it as a flagship county in the area of social inclusion" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 2/7).