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Volume 6 No. 214

International Football

The Scottish Premier League came under fire Monday after it "suddenly delayed" announcing the post-split fixtures "because Police and broadcasters were unable to come to an agreement over matches," according to Phil Gordon of the LONDON TIMES. The league was expected to make the announcement on the Monday after the division splits into two groups after 33 games as is tradition. However, "discussions with the Police and three broadcasters who have rights to screen SPL games -- ESPN, Sky and BBC Alba -- took longer than expected." The announcement is expected Tuesday, but the delay "has frustrated Celtic fans from Ireland who must now wait to book travel and accommodation." Celtic requires one point to clinch the SPL title, and it was assumed the club would be given a home game on April 20. The problem is that Rangers are already playing Peterhead at Ibrox on the same day and Glasgow’s senior Police officers "will adhere to their policy of Celtic and Rangers not playing in the city on the same day" to avoid trouble between rival fans. (LONDON TIMES, 4/9).

MAKEOVER TAKES A HIT: In London, Gordan wrote St. Mirren has delivered "a serious blow" to the reorganization of Scottish football by confirming it will vote "against league restructure next week." Club Chair Stewart Gilmour claims that clubs are being “rushed” into a deal. Now, attention shifts to Ross County, "another vocal opponent of the plan to implement change in by 2013-14" If Ross County votes no, "the attempt at reconstruction will fail" at the SPL summit next Monday. Roy MacGregor, Gilmour’s counterpart at Ross County, stated last month that he had huge misgivings about the plan (LONDON TIMES, 4/9).

Businessman Eric Ding Si Yang "has been charged with three counts of corruption" relating to the sexual bribes case involving three Lebanese football match officials, according to Kevin Lim of REUTERS. Ding, described by local media as a Singaporean bookmaker, will "appear before the judge on Tuesday." On Wednesday, FIFA-recognized referee Ali Sabbagh and assistants Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb "will appear in court where they can request bail or enter a plea against the charge of corruptly receiving gratification to fix a match." Eid missed Friday's initial hearing as he suffered an "episode" in detention and was under observation in a Singapore hospital, but the attorney general's office said that he was "brought before the judge on Monday" (REUTERS, 4/8).

'SHOCKED AND SURPRISED': The Hong Kong STANDARD reported Singapore's Sunday Times said that Ding "spends most of his time in Bangkok but has stakes in a restaurant and nightclub in Singapore." He is "known to have a passion for fast cars and drives an Aston Martin Vantage." Ding was "a football tipster" with local tabloid The New Paper from '06 -12. If convicted, Ding "faces a maximum prison term of five years or a fine" of up to S$100,000 ($80,500), or both penalties for each charge (STANDARD, 4/8). BLOOMBERG's Tan & Panja reported Lebanese FA President Hachem Haydar said he was "shocked and surprised" by events in Singapore. Haydar: "Of course I know them. They are some of the excellent referees here. They are good referees, they have a good performance and their attitude is very good. We are all surprised that something happened" (BLOOMBERG, 4/5).

COURT CONFUSION: In Singapore, Khushwant Singh reported the Lebanese FA "has hired a lawyer from Drew & Napier to defend its three referees" in the match-fixing case. However, even that "was not a straightforward matter, with one of the men initially rejecting" the services of lawyer Gary Low in court on Friday, while another "could not give his assent as he had landed in hospital." Assistant referee Abdallah Taleb "initially said no" to Low, as he thought that the lawyer "had been appointed by the Lebanese government." He "changed his mind after District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam told him that the appointment had been made by his country's football association" (STRAITS TIMES, 4/8).

Russian President Vladimir Putin has "signed into law a measure limiting incapacity benefit" after a scandal in which injured footballers drained half of St. Petersburg’s social insurance budget, according to R-SPORT. The social security system "pays out benefits corresponding to a percentage of a sick worker’s usual salary," and allowed just 12 Zenit St. Petersburg players to claim $5.2M from city coffers in '11. The new rules "aim to stop wealthy sports stars and corporate high-flyers claiming large sums while unfit for work" (R-SPORT, 4/8).