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Volume 6 No. 216

International Football

Premier League clubs agreed in principle to a system of enhanced financial regulations, which are designed to further improve the sustainability of clubs. The new elements of Premier League Financial Regulation include a sustainability clause that will require clubs to work toward break-even, while allowing a degree of owner investment going in as equity. A short-term cost control protocol was also agreed, which would limit the amount clubs could raise their player costs by above an agreed floor from centrally distributed revenue (EPL).

LAYING DOWN THE LAW: In London, Owen Gibson reported Premier League clubs will be "docked points" if they fail to comply with new financial control measures designed to "curb rampant wage inflation and stem losses" when their new £5.5B ($8.6B) TV deal kicks in next season. Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore claimed that the measures "would bring to an end the era of rampant short-term spending and make clubs more stable." From '13-14 onwards, clubs will be "limited to losses" of £105M ($165M) over three seasons based on their audited accounts. As with UEFA's stricter Financial Fair Play rules, money invested in youth development and infrastructure "can be discounted from the calculations" (GUARDIAN, 2/7). Also in London, Ashling O'Connor wrote reforms would make it "virtually impossible" for a repeat of Roman Abramovich’s takeover of Chelsea or Sheikh Mansour’s purchase of Man City. If the rules were already in place, four clubs -- Manchester City, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Liverpool -- "would have been in breach of it." The package of reforms is "intended to ensure greater financial stability" for the Premier League clubs, which collectively spent £1.4B ($2.2B) on players’ salaries, benefits and image rights in the '10-11 season and reported losses totaling £361M ($567M) (LONDON TIMES, 2/7).

VOTE BARELY PASSES: In London, Paul Kelso reported "only after the narrowest of votes" were the measures approved. The new rules passed with 13 votes to six, with Reading "abstaining from the crucial ballot." Under league rules a two-thirds majority "is required for any rule changes to be made." If all 20 clubs vote, "that means 14 have to approve." Reading's abstention, driven by new Owner Anton Zingarevich, meant that 13 votes was enough for the "controversial measures" to be passed, but even then "they only just squeezed across the line." The new rules "should also slow the speed of wage inflation," which club owners wanted to agree on as they prepare to bank the proceeds of a new £5.5B broadcast deal (TELEGRAPH, 2/7). BLOOMBERG's Danielle Rossingh reported Scudamore said that clubs that breach the new rules "will be subject to a disciplinary commission." Scudamore: "There is an absolute prohibition of losing more than £105M over three years." Scudamore said should clubs breach that amount, "we’ll be looking for the top end ultimate sanction range," including point deductions (BLOOMBERG, 2/7). In London, Martyn Ziegler reported West Ham's co-Owner David Gold said that the proposals for controls had received "backing of the majority of chairmen." Gold said, "We have all voted, and it was overwhelmingly supported, not by all the clubs -- some are a little concerned -- but the vast majority of the clubs voted in favour. It's not a salary cap, it's a restraint on over-spending. If clubs increase their revenues then they can increase their spending" (INDEPENDENT, 2/7).

This month marks one year since former Rangers Owner Craig Whyte "announced the club was going into administration," according to Gary Meenaghan of THE NATIONAL. As current Owner Charles Green "watched the news unfold on television in his London apartment, he received a text message from Imran Ahmad of Zeus Capital offering him the opportunity to become the chief executive of one of football's biggest football clubs." He replied: "No thanks." Green said, "I thought that was the end of it. But a few days later he hounded me again and we met in London. That was when I realized not only that Rangers had to be bought by someone, but that Rangers could be bought by my group." Last summer, while "sourcing investors for a consortium that would eventually acquire the business and assets of the financially-stricken club," Green managed to raise close to £4M worth of investment from the region. Green suggested that, without a rich benefactor, "it is hard to come up with a sustainable model for running a football club." Green said, "But our vision is to instead use these great assets that we have got: the academy and our worldwide network." Green "will look east to continue Rangers' renaissance by tapping into Arabian Gulf, subcontinent and Far East markets." Green said, "The growth of football is going to be in those regions." Rangers have a back story stretching 140 years, but with a growing number of European clubs opening elite football schools in Asia, Green knows that Rangers "will need to move quickly to ensure a foothold." He "has already held meetings regarding training camps and academies and hopes to use the connections he has developed in the UAE over the past decade or so to help the club's cause." Green said, "It's part of what I am doing here because there is a pool of talent in this region -- both local and expat." He added: "I know Emiratis like their football as much as they like their horses, so there would be a strong interest. I had a meeting earlier with a very close friend and he is extremely excited about the prospect of trying to help me drive this here" (THE NATIONAL, 2/7).

REUTERS' Keith Weir reported Rangers "have dismissed fears that the club could face a new battle for survival over a disputed bill." Britain's Channel 4 News reported that Singapore-based Orlit Enterprises "was planning to go to court to seek a winding-up order against Rangers over disputed invoices" for £400,000 ($628,000). The bill "was for help in finding investors to rescue the club last June." Rangers said in a statement: "With regard to stories circulating about Rangers and Orlit, the sums sought are insignificant and agreement has been reached subject to the necessary paperwork" (REUTERS, 2/7). In Glasgow, Keith McLeod reported despite the claim, "no evidence exists that a winding-up order has been served." The Daily Record "could find no papers at the Court of Session in Edinburgh" Wednesday relating to an order against Rangers. Wednesday night, "it emerged that Green had been linked to a director of Orlit." In May, "he resigned as non-executive chairman of Nova Resources, who have interests in the Far East and Mongolia." Another board member of Nova Resources is a lawyer called Chan Fook Meng, who "is also listed as a director of Orlit Enterprises" (DAILY RECORD, 2/7).

Tottenham Hotspur will play an exhibition match against the Jamaican national team in the Bahamas on May 23 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium on Nassau Paradise Island. The match will also mark the Bahamas’ 40th anniversary of independence (Tottenham). ... The La Liga Week 26 matchup between Barcelona and Real Madrid will be played on March 2 at 4pm local time (EL CONFIDENCIAL, 2/7). ... ManU confirmed that it will play a second preseason friendly in Japan against J.League club Cerezo Osaka as part of its '13 summer tour. The match will take place at Nagai Stadium in Osaka on July 26, three days after a match against Yokohama F Marinos at Int'l Stadium Yokohama, site of the 2002 World Cup final (AP, 2/7).