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Volume 6 No. 211


Outgoing ManU CEO David Gill said that the EPL club, which Monday secured its 20th English football championship, is expanding its “marketing activities in the United States to cash in on interest generated by a new deal for NBC” to air league games, according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. The club is “looking at adding a sales office on the east coast of the United States later this year to complement existing operations in London and Hong Kong.” Gill said, “NBC has the Premier League rights for next season. We should be able to feed off the back of that enhanced and wider coverage.” Weir noted ManU has “already attracted sponsorship from General Motors,” as its Chevy brand will take over the team’s shirt sponsorship in ’14. The club also is “negotiating a new agreement" with its kit supplier Nike. ManU was listed on the NYSE last August, and the team is “forecasting revenues” of $534-549M for the year through the end of June, up from $488M last season and “comfortably the highest in the Premier League.” Investors have “warmed to the club thanks to new sponsorship deals, a lucrative set of new TV rights agreements for the Premier League and new measures designed to curb costs in a notoriously spendthrift industry” (REUTERS, 4/23).

SILENCING THE CRITICS: The AP’s Rob Harris noted Gill believes critics of ManU Owner the Glazer family “have been mostly silenced by the team's ability to overhaul big-spending Manchester City and reclaim the English Premier League title." ManU games were “marred two years ago by protests,” but the club has seen off Man City's threat as the Glazer family "has slashed the debt that angered some fans." Gill said, “There are still a small number of dissenters and they will always be there.” However, he added, “The vast, vast majority of Manchester United fans are concerned about having a successful team playing great Manchester United attacking football" (AP, 4/23).

Coventry City Council’s £14M ($21M) bailout of the Ricoh Arena company "is to be challenged in the High Court" by League One side Coventry City, according to Les Reid of the COVENTRY TELEGRAPH. The football club "wants a judge to rule whether the deal was a lawful use of taxpayers’ money." Councillors "unanimously agreed the highly confidential deal behind closed doors in January" -- to bail out the part council-owned stadium management company Arena Coventry Ltd. by buying out its outstanding mortgage loan with Yorkshire Bank. It "was amid fears ACL could be heading for administration" -- after nearly a year of Coventry City Football Club refusing to pay its £100,000 ($152,000)-a-month rent for using the stadium -- which "could have forced the sale of the Ricoh at a knock down price." The legal challenge "partly concerns whether the council paid over the market value for the stadium company’s mortgage, and could therefore be unlawful under 'state aid' rules" (COVENTRY TELEGRAPH, 4/23).

DUNFERMLINE: The SCOTSMAN reported Scottish First Division club Dunfermline AFC has been "issued with a Notice of Complaint by the Scottish FA after going into administration." The Pars "have been ordered to appear before an SFA hearing at Hampden" on May 9. And the Fife club -- which entered administration earlier this month in a bid to stave off a winding-up order launched by U.K. tax authority HMRC over a £134,000 ($204,256) unpaid tax bill -- has until Monday "to respond to the complaint" (SCOTSMAN, 4/23).

Pirelli Motorsport Dir Paul Hembery said that Red Bull has "an agenda" in complaining about this year's tires and the "'vast majority' of Formula One teams have urged Pirelli not to change them," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Pirelli has been in the headlines more than ever after introducing new compounds to encourage overtaking, mix up strategy and create more pitstops. Much of the criticism has come from champions Red Bull, which wants the tires "to be longer-lasting and blamed excessive wear" for its controversial use of "team orders" in Malaysia last month. Hembery said he felt like "piggy in the middle" and the situation was all "a bit weird really." Hembry: "In the end we've had the vast majority of teams come to us and say: 'Whatever you do don't change anything.'" Pirelli has been supported by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone, who always likes a controversy -- or indeed anything that gets F1 talked about -- but "is also in favour of rewarding strategy and driver skills." Ecclestone said, "If the tires lasted from January to December, there'd be something else to talk about" (REUTERS, 4/23).