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Volume 6 No. 194


Negotiations over EPL West Ham United's move into London's Olympic Stadium will extend beyond Tuesday as "a saga that has lasted more than two years limps towards a conclusion," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. The London Legacy Development Corporation was "expected to rubber-stamp the move on Tuesday" after West Ham "upped its annual rent offer" of £2.5M ($3.9M), as well as £6.5M ($10M) in sponsorship and catering income, for the £429M ($666M) stadium. Once the deal is ratified by the LLDC, Newham council's offer to part-fund the £160M ($248M)-plus conversion costs of a new cantilevered roof and retractable seats "still has to be approved." Also, a special-purpose body, set-up by the council and the LLDC, "will also have to formally confirm any agreement" (GUARDIAN, 2/18).

League One Portsmouth fans "will be given a free 15% stake in the club as part of a revised offer" for the club by football financier Keith Harris, according to Nabil Hassan of the BBC. Harris' initial offer "was rejected by the Football League," which confirmed the only bid it would consider "was from the Pompey Supporters' Trust." But Harris "has not given up hope of taking over the stricken club." Harris said in a statement, "The offer is not subject to any due diligence, as it has all been fully completed." The preferred bidders, PST, has been "approved by the Football League as well as the club's creditors." However, the Trust's takeover "is conditional on the group taking control of the club's Fratton Park stadium." On Monday, the Harris-led bid announced an "option to acquire the stadium from the current owners is in an agreed form and will be completed immediately following the takeover" and Football League approval was the only stumbling block in taking control of the club. The statement added that it "would hand 15% of the shares in the club to a group made up of supporters who have donated funds to PST, season-ticket holders and hospitality clients." It is also proposed that a fans' representative "will be elected to the board following any takeover" (BBC, 2/18).

Serie A club AS Roma President Jim Pallotta "enjoyed a warm reception from Italians" after he bought the club in '11, but the "honeymoon was short-lived," according to Beth Healy of the BOSTON GLOBE. After a recent string of losses, disgruntled fans are "in revolt." Pallotta "promised to make AS Roma a contender in the elite Champions League, and the fans loved it." But after the recent run of defeats, they lately have been "chanting and waving signs that say, 'Yankee go home!' and 'Free AS Roma.'" In addition to Pallotta, the other investors are MLB Boston Red Sox investor Thomas DiBenedetto, North Bridge Ventures Partner Richard D'Amore and real estate investor Michael Ruane. DiBenedetto was president of Roma until last summer, when the group "raised a new round of money and Pallotta, the largest investor, raised his hand to take over." The owners "aim to build Roma into a global brand, along the lines" of ManU. They are "applying American sports business strategy, signing new players, and expanding media and marketing efforts in deals with Disney, Volkswagen, and others." Pallotta said, "At the end of the day, you’re branding Rome, right? And how many cities in the world are as aspirational as Rome?" Pallotta wants to turn the team, valued at $354M, into a $1B franchise. Central to the plan is "building a new 60,000-seat arena" by '16 to replace the old Stadio Olimpico. Pallotta also "envisions" a HOF museum for Roma. DiBenedetto said that he has "confidence Pallotta is making the right moves." DiBenedetto added, "Hopefully Rome will have the patience to allow the football people to make that happen" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/17).

The prospect of Scottish Premier League Heart of Midlothian coming under the ownership of supporters "appeared to recede" over the weekend when Dir Sergejus Fedotovas declared that the club "could be sold before the end of the season," according to Stephen Halliday of the SCOTSMAN. Fedotovas’ comments, which indicated that talks "have been ongoing with more than one interested party, came as a surprise" to the Foundation of Hearts non-profit group of business people and fans. The Foundation already "had an initial offer for the club rejected" last November. Since the Foundation "has not been involved in any substantive further discussions" with Fedotovas recently, it seems Hearts Owner Vladimir Romanov is "looking at alternative options." Unnamed consortiums in Scandinavia and the U.S. "have been speculated upon in the past few weeks." Foundation of Hearts Chair Alex Mackie "just returned from a break in the Middle East and will meet with his colleagues this week to assess where they now stand" (SCOTSMAN, 2/18).