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Volume 10 No. 25


U.S. billionaire Preston Haskell has agreed to a deal to purchase a half share of League One Coventry City's stadium with hopes to buying the club "out of an impending administration," according to Duncan Castles of the SUNDAY TIMES. Haskell "has promised to invest heavily in the playing squad and overhaul the club's operations to return the side to England's top tier." His plans include "the return of suspended life president Joe Elliott as chairman and bringing The Sky Blue Trust onto a restructured board by offering the supporters' body a 20% stake in their club." The £113M ($172M) Ricoh Arena "is joint owned by the city council and the Alan Edward Higgs Charity." Haskell has agreed to buy the latter group's half-share of Arena Coventry Limited "provided he can take over its management." Haskell: "To return this club to the Premier League will take investment in the team and a proper management structure" (SUNDAY TIMES, 3/24). In London, Patrick Barrett wrote, "Coventry City are looking for an alternative ground at which to play their remaining home fixtures this season as tensions mount with the Ricoh Arena owners." The club "have reiterated their desire to remain playing at the Ricoh but have nevertheless entered into talks with the Football League over a viable temporary home amid fears that a deal with ACL over rent and matchday proceeds will not be found." ACL, however, have denied they will prevent Coventry from playing at the Ricoh, while dismissing reports of a "lock out" at the ground (LONDON TIMES, 3/23).

ON THE MOVE: The BBC reported Coventry City "have moved all staff and club shop stock from the Ricoh Arena to their training ground after a non-operating subsidiary of the club was placed into administration." Club staff "have been assured their posts are unaffected" (BBC, 3/23). In London, James Riach wrote if Coventry City enter administration, "then they will automatically be deducted 10 points by the Football League this season, ending their promotion hopes in League One." It has been suggested that for the points to be deducted during this campaign the administration order "would have to be made by next Thursday." ACL, however, "believes that is not the case and that the deadline" is April 27 (GUARDIAN, 3/22).

Australian rugby's grand experiment in private ownership is "about to come to an end" with the ownership of the Super Rugby club Melbourne Rebels set to be transferred to the Victorian Rugby Union, according to Bret Harris of THE AUSTRALIAN. It is understood that the Rebels' major shareholder, media buyer Harold Mitchell, "will gift his shares to the VRU." Whether the Rebels' other shareholders maintain any private equity in the franchise "remains to be seen." Either way, the Australian Rugby Union is "expected to provide" the clubs with financial assistance as it moves from a privately owned to a state-owned model. When asked about the ownership of the Rebels, ARU CEO Bill Pulver said, "I am in discussions with the Rebels' owners, but there is nothing I can confirm." The Rebels' situation "not only raises questions about the future funding" of the Melbourne franchise but the role of private ownership of Australian Super Rugby teams in general. The licences of other Super Rugby franchises -- the Brumbies, New South Wales Waratahs, Queensland Reds and Western Force -- "are owned by state unions" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/25).