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Volume 6 No. 215


Big-spending clubs opposed to UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations "were dealt an unexpected boost" Monday when "an official challenge to the rules was lodged at the European Commission," according to Ian Herbert of the London TELEGRAPH. The complaint, lodged by Belgium-registered agent Daniel Striani, "will force the Commission to mount a painstaking assessment of whether the UEFA President Michel Platini's FFP regime is an illegal restriction on his potential income." The Striani case "does have potential to derail a system central to Platini's vision for the game." Striani "is represented by the lawyer Jean Louis-Dupont." Legal specialists believe that "it may take five years for Striani's case to be dealt with." But European clubs, including Man City and Chelsea, "will be watching with great interest a legal case which will be based in part on the assertion that FFP is unfair" because it preserves the existing dominance of clubs like ManU and Arsenal "by preventing newcomers to run-up losses while they break in." Dupont first revealed last month that he believed FFP, which has demanded clubs entering European competitions move toward break-even since '11, "was anti-competitive and open to legal challenge" (INDEPENDENT, 5/7).

IMG this year "drew an unsolicited bid" of more than $2B from California private equity firm Colony Capital, according to sources cited by Gelles, Edgecliffe-Johnson & Garrahan of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Colony's bid was "dismissed because Forstmann Little plans to run an auction so as to obtain the highest price for IMG." The Colony offer was "made in co-operation with funds linked to the Qatari royal family." Colony Founder, Chair & CEO Tom Barrack "worked with the Qataris on a bid for AEG." Private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and talent agency William Morris Endeavor are "thought likely to participate in the auction, as is a similar group comprising private equity firm TPG and talent agency Creative Artists Agency." Meanwhile, Former Yahoo Chair & CEO Terry Semel is "said to be prepared to bid this time." Reliance Chair & CEO Mukesh Ambani, India’s "richest man," is also said to be "watching the process closely." His group "has a joint venture with IMG and he was close" to the late Theodore Forstmann. Other "potential bidders" include Guggenheim Partners and Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle (FT, 5/7).

ON YOUR MARK: FORBES' Naazneen Karmali reported Ambani, "has reportedly joined the race to acquire IMG Worldwide," which "is expected to fetch" up to $3B. What’s working in Ambani’s favor is that his Reliance Industries "already has a joint venture with IMG," one of four such partnerships the agency has outside the U.S. No official confirmation from either IMG or Reliance "is as yet forthcoming" (FORBES, 5/5).

La Liga side Deportivo La Coruña and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) met Tuesday to try to arrive at an agreement about the conditions established by a judge regarding how Deportivo can access €9M ($11.8M) from a payment of TV rights, according to Juan Yordi of MARCA. Judge Rafael García issued a decision on March 26 in which he decided Deportivo "had the right to use the money" if it met certain conditions (MARCA, 5/7).