A change of ownership at Scottish Premier League Heart of Midlothian is "one step closer" following talks between club Dir Sergejus Fedotovas and several supporters’ groups, according to Barry Anderson of the SCOTSMAN. All parties are "close to identifying a model" for fan ownership, although "no offer has yet been made" for the majority shareholding in the club held by Ukio Bankas Investment Group. Supporters Direct is "helping broker the talks," which involve the Hearts Shareholders Association, the Federation of Hearts Supporters Clubs, the Hearts Supporters Trust, the Hearts Youth Development Committee, the Fans Forum and Foundation of Hearts. It is hoped that Hearts could have new owners by the start of next season, although those involved are "reluctant to put a definite time scale in place at this stage" (SCOTSMAN, 3/18).
The future of A-League Central Coast "could be in jeopardy if a restructure of its ownership fails," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. Football Federation Australia has confirmed that discussions "are under way" for one of the club's investors to take a controlling interest in the club. The investor would take on the Mariners considerable debts, although fears emerged that the move "might have come too late." English businessman Michael Charlesworth is "understood to have been negotiating for several weeks" with FFA and the Mariners' major stakeholder and Chair Peter Turnbull to "take the reins of the club," which has had "mounting financial problems for the past three or four seasons" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/19).
NOT GETTING PAID: In Melbourne, Sebastian Hassett reported players and staff of the Mariners have had their wages "delayed for the second time this season." Those on the club's payroll were due to be paid last Thursday but when the players arrived back on Friday from their midweek game against Kashiwa Reysol in Tokyo, "their fortnightly salary still hadn't gone through." The players have been told that their wages "should be processed on Tuesday and that wages will be on time for the rest of the season." A-League CEO Damien De Bohun said he had ''no concerns'' over the club's long-term future and did not believe "it would prove too disruptive to its campaign" (THE AGE, 3/19).
The battle to assume control of League One Portsmouth "took a new twist" when it emerged that Keith Harris’s consortium has made a £6.3M ($9.5M) bid for Fratton Park, a figure more than double that offered by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust, according to Tony Evans of the LONDON TIMES. In a letter to club administrator PKF, the Harris group said that the cash offer “will take the form of an immediate payment, and will not be dependent on any deferred consideration”. PKF has given "no indication as to whether the offer is under serious consideration." Former Owner Balram Chainrai claims that the club owe him £12M ($18.1M), "which is secured by a fixed charge on Fratton Park through his Portpin company." PST has asked for an independent valuation of the stadium and will go before the High Court next month to "try to force through the sale to the PST" for £3M ($4.5M). Portpin is "believed to be ready to release its security" on the stadium if PKF takes up the Harris offer (LONDON TIMES, 3/18) .
Three-time Olympian Damian Keogh has "emerged as a key figure" in attempts to institute change at National Rugby League club Cronulla Sharks, according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Keogh was nominated for the coming leagues club elections "as part of a ticket pulled together by former Sharks powerbroker Peter Gow." Keogh has been "mooted as a potential chairman should his ticket gain power." Keogh was "reluctant to discuss his role," although he confirmed he had submitted a nomination for the leagues club elections (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/19).