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Volume 6 No. 215


The Middle Eastern owner of League Championship side Leeds United has "signalled that it is in talks to sell" the club, according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. Dubai-based GFH Capital purchased the club from majority shareholder Ken Bates in December. In end-year financial statements dated Feb. 21, Gulf Financial House said, "The Group has an active plan to sell its stake in LUFC Holdings Limited, and accordingly, the asset and liabilities acquired were classified as held-for-sale and presented in the consolidated statement of financial position." It added that "it had begun negotiations related to the sale of its stake since the end of last year." The accounts "show a net cash payment" of $33.2M to buy the business last year. Reports in December said the cost of the Leeds deal could be up to $78.6M, but "that figure was not confirmed." In its accounts, Gulf Finance House "booked a goodwill gain" of $10.4M on the deal, and said "the bargain purchase was due to pressure on the sellers to exit their holdings due to change in their business plans" (REUTERS, 3/19).

U.S. property tycoon Preston Haskell IV has "emerged as the man waiting in the wings to swoop" for League Championship club Coventry City should the club be placed in administration on Friday, according to the COVENTRY TELEGRAPH. The American, who has a fortune estimated at $250M, is "being lined up by Ricoh Arena owners ACL to take over the football club." The Texan "looked to buy" League Championship club Leeds United late last year. ACL, which is jointly owned by Coventry City Council and the Alan Higgs charity, has made the application to the High Court for administration over £1.3M ($2M) in arrears, "racked up after the club stopped paying rent, arguing they were being vastly overcharged."  This "could force out" Mayfair-based hedge fund owner Sisu, which has invested more than £40M ($60M) into the club and "had hoped to acquire a stake in the Ricoh" (COVENTRY TELEGRAPH, 3/19).

Poice in Scotland are "investigating the alleged leaking of confidential information" relating to the tax case of Scottish Third Division club Rangers, according to the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Strathclyde Police said that officers "had been instructed to look into suspicions that private details were released in breach of the law." The former Rangers club known as "Oldco" was investigated last year "over its use of Employee Benefit Trusts." Rangers "effectively won the case" after a tribunal ruled that some payments made to players through EBTs were taxable, but that many of them "could be described as loans, as the club had argued." An appeal has been lodged by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (DAILY RECORD, 3/19).

Scottish Third Division Rangers CEO Charles Green has argued that "his club should be promoted into the second tier of Scottish football if a new 12-12-18 structure follows their inevitable Irn-Bru Third Division title triumph," according to the SCOTSMAN. Green claimed that "moving Rangers up beyond most of the current Second Division clubs would be in line with 'sporting integrity.'" In a lengthy statement on the club’s official website, Green said: "All things being well, Rangers should win the Division Three title and, that being the case, we should be promoted. That should happen regardless of what league structure the powers that be put in place" (SCOTSMAN, 3/19). In Glasgow, David McCarthy reported "Rangers believe a 14-14-14 set-up would benefit the game the most, but that idea seems to have garnered little support from clubs." If that doesn’t happen, Green would like to see Scottish Football League CEO David Longmuir’s option of 12-12-10-10 "coming into force, with the creation of an extra two places in the lowest league" (DAILY RECORD, 3/19).

PAYING OPPONENTS: Also in Glasgow, McCarthy reported in a seperate piece Green "dangled a carrot in front of lower-league clubs by promising to pay those visited by a Rangers B team a guarantee of the equivalent of 300 fans coming through the gates" -- a sum which would boost their coffers by anything from £3,000-£4,000 ($4,500-$6,000). Green said, "A Rangers Colts team would add value to the league, and other clubs would see their home gates enhanced significantly. I would also be prepared to guarantee other clubs the ticket revenue equivalent of 300 Rangers fans turning up" (DAILY RECORD, 3/19).

Scottish First Division Dunfermline employees and supporters "face an anxious wait to discover if the proposed supporter-led buyout comes to fruition" after the mysterious consortium got its first sight of the club’s accounts Monday, according to Darren Johnstone of the SCOTSMAN. The group, whose identities remain unknown, has started its examination of the Pars’ financial records as it considers "firming up a club-saving offer" that will see the consortium obtain a 50% shareholding. The remaining 50% would be taken up by other fans, with Owner Gavin Masterton -- who currently has a 94% stake in the team -- and his family "severing all ties" (SCOTSMAN, 3/19).

League Championship club Blackburn Rovers has sacked Manager Michael Appleton just 67 days after he replaced Henning Berg, according to Simon Rice of the London INDEPENDENT. The decision "follows a 1-1 draw with Burnley over the weekend and last week's exit from the FA Cup in a quarter-final replay with Millwall." It represents a "second short managerial stint" at Blackburn. Appleton's predecessor Berg was in charge for 57 days. The decision "will also lead to questions about the management of the club," which is owned by Indian poultry giants Venky's. Since taking over the Lancashire side, it has sacked four managers and overseen relegation from the Premier League (INDEPENDENT, 3/19).

DEFINITION OF INSANITY: In London, David Conn opined Venky's can now be identified "with Albert Einstein's famous definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." There "can seem no other explanation for what they have done to the famous Lancashire club than that it is all madness." The wholesale sackings or resignations of the stable and highly regarded group of directors and executives Venky's inherited are "deeply relevent." The club's attendance averaged 14,665 per game this season, down from 25,008 in '10-11 when the Venky's were "first in charge." There "must be more to it than madness, but there is little sense in it; another manager gone, a haemorrhage of money, and a draining away of broken-hearted support" (GUARDIAN, 3/19).

A-League Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold said that his players "have no intention of taking strike action and will turn up for Sunday's important away game against Adelaide United despite the fact the players still remain unpaid four days after their monthly wages were due," according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. Arnold's pledge came amid news the embattled club's investors -- Mike Charlesworth, Chair Peter Turnbull and Western Sydney Wanderers exec Chair Lyall Gorman -- were Tuesday night "locked in a meeting in a bid to resolve issues surrounding a revamping of the Mariners' ownership structure." No players had been paid by the close of business "despite assurances" the money would be in their accounts by Tuesday (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/20).