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Volume 6 No. 214


American property tycoon Preston Haskell IV insists he's "deadly serious" about taking over League One Coventry City, according to Andy Turner of the COVENTRY TELEGRAPH. The 46-year-old multi-millionaire declined to do a formal interview until a takeover deal is done, but he did have a clear message to the fans, insisting, "I'm deadly serious about doing this and want to get it done as soon as possible." Former Vice Chair Gary Hoffman and suspended Life President Joe Elliott are leading the takeover bid on behalf of the wealthy backer and have written to the administrator of Coventry City FC Ltd. Paul Appleton, "expressing an interest in acquiring the football club as soon as possible." Elliott: "Preston is very interested in Coventry City Football Club Ltd." Elliott "admitted that there remains uncertainty over where the golden share is held"-- effectively City's license to operate in the Football League. Hoffman and Elliott said that "there have been no conversations with City owners Sisu or Coventry City FC (Holdings)." Elliott: "At the moment it is our only intention to deal with Coventry City FC Ltd where it is understood from the Football League and the Football Association where the golden share is, which is Coventry City's heart, breathing and living body." Asked about plans to purchase half the stadium, Hoffman said: "We'd prefer not to comment on that at this stage but it is safe to say that whether you are a fan or an observer in this, you look at models in the football world and it will only work if the football club and stadium come together" (COVENTRY TELEGRAPH, 4/8).

All India Football Federation Secretary Kushal Das "will travel to Manchester, England this week to try and attract more bids for I-League franchises, after successful talks with investors in Dubai and Delhi," according to Ashley Hammond of GULF NEWS. The top of his list of targets "are thought to be European clubs interested in co-branding opportunities, where in exchange for vast merchandising potential, clubs can offer their technical expertise to a ‘sister club’ in India’s top-flight football league." Das said that representatives from English Premier League sides Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers and Venky’s Group, the owners of second-tier side Blackburn Rovers, "have already expressed an interest." Das said, "We’ve had European clubs visit India to play and train on promotional tours before, but this is an entirely different opportunity for them, which has never been done before. It offers huge potential in return on their investment" (GULF NEWS, 4/8).

Australian Football League Melbourne Demons President Don McLardy "has conceded the club's woeful start to the season" and A$500,000 ($520,000) "tanking" fine have the club on track for a A$1M loss this year, according to Jon Ralph of the HERALD SUN. But McLardy Monday labeled suggestions an AFL administrator should take over Melbourne as "fanciful" and "ridiculous." McLardy said that "he would accept help from the league," with AFL bosses Andrew Demetriou and Gillon McLachlan making contact with Melbourne officials Monday. After four straight profits and with a board of business heavyweights, McLardy said that the Demons administration "had excelled and rejected calls" for CEO Cameron Schwab to step down. McLardy said, "The people sitting on our board are the CEO of the Bank of Queensland (Stuart Grimshaw); Guy Jalland, who is the legal counsel for James Packer; John Trotter, who is the ex-managing partner of Deloitte; Russell Howcroft, who is effectively running Channel 10; Karen Hayes, who runs the Guide Dogs Association of Victoria; and Peter Spargo, who is a successful businessman. And people suggest we should get someone from the AFL to come in and tell us how to run our business" (HERALD SUN, 4/9). In Sydney, Patrick Smith reported AFL officials "were deeply troubled by the club's attitude after Saturday night's mauling by Essendon." On Sunday, the club sent out football boss Neil Craig mainly, Schwab and McLardy sparingly, "to reassure their supporters the club had matters under control." It is "not a confidence shared by the football community." AFL officials believe that the decision by the club to allow TV access to coach Mark Neeld's prematch address "is evidence that the club hierarchy is numb to the depth of the problems wracking the club." The TV access "could only ever open up the club to ridicule." There was "no upside." Viewers "saw a coach, nervous and uninspiring, speaking to what appeared a mostly bored or uninterested group of players" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/9).

ESSENDON KEEP POINTS: Also in Sydney, Demetriou said that "it could be two to three months before the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority's investigation into Essendon is concluded, but has knocked on the head any suggestion the club could lose points this season." Demetriou dismissed the suggestion that "adverse findings would result in Essendon being docked points or deprived of a finals spot." He said, "There's no suggestion at all that Essendon in 2013 are involved in any use of anything that is being investigated, so they are fine" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/9).