A new survey said that one in 10 season ticket holders at Premier League clubs "will not renew for next season due to the cost," according to Martyn Ziegler of the PA. A Virgin Money Football Fans' Index research said that a further 22% of fans "have yet to decide whether they can afford to commit for another campaign." The survey "also asked fans what they thought was a fair price for a season ticket" -- with the price stated £200 ($306) less than the Premier League average. The "figures for the numbers not renewing season tickets or still to decide are broadly similar in the Championship and League One." In League Two, however, only 57% of fans "are definitely renewing their season tickets," with a further 34% undecided (PA, 5/13).
Football is emerging as a focal point of dissent in Saudi Arabia, which is "struggling to fend off the waves of change sweeping the Middle East and North Africa," according to James M. Dorsey of MIDDLE EAST ONLINE. Fan pressure "is evolving as a potent tool in the absence of the right to protest." It follows intermittent demonstrations and at times deadly clashes with security forces in the kingdom's predominantly Shiite Eastern Province that hosts its major oil fields, "as well protests by family members of activists imprisoned for lengthy periods of time without being charged." In the latest assertion of fan power, "a Facebook page entitled Nasrawi Revolution demands the resignation of Prince Faisal bin Turki," the owner of Riyadh club Al Nasser FC and nephew of King Abdullah. The campaign against Prince Faisal follows last year's unprecedented resignation of Prince Nawaf bin Feisal as head of the Saudi Football Federation, "the first royal to be persuaded by public pressure step down in a region where monarchial control of the sport is seen as politically important" (MIDDLE EAST ONLINE, 5/12).
La Liga Levante President Quico Catalán "has before him one of the most tense moments in the club's history," according to Miguel Ángel Rodríguez of MARCA. The first and most important issue is "what to do with the players implicated in the controversy unleashed after the game against Deportivo." Within the club, there is a growing conviction that Catalán will be firm and will not want any of the implicated players in his new project, but this decision has not been made. Of Sergio Ballesteros, Juanfran Garcia, Gustavo Munúa, Juanlu Gómez and Jose Javier Barkero, all have contracts in effect except Munúa, "who will surely leave." Barkero and Ballesteros have renewed contracts and Gómez and Garcia have another year. The president's decision "cannot take forever because it would be a clear gesture for the club to definitively separate itself from the suspects and completely collaborate with the Spanish Football League (LFP)" (MARCA, 5/13).
GARCÍA SPEAKS OUT: The EFE reported García "harshly criticized LFP President Javier Tebas, and explained that he will not let Tebas use his team 'like a guinea pig' in the open investigation for suspected match-fixing and illegal bets." García criticized the way Tebas is managing the investigation that surged after Barkero yelled at Garcia and three other teammates in the locker room for a lack of intensity during a Levante-Deportivo game on April 13. García: "It is a lot easier to go after a small club than a bigger club. Tebas has entered one way in La Liga. His slogan was to end the fixed games. But I do not want him to choose Levante to be his guinea pig. I do not want this and I will not consent to it. What he has to do internally, I do not tell him not to do it, but at least publicly he should have a little more caution with what he says. He is doing a lot of damage. When Tebas realizes the mistake he has made with what he is doing, I expect he will ask for forgiveness" (EFE, 5/13).
The Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee has published its 2012 Annual Report on its preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. The key milestone in the report is the selection of the tournament's host cities that have enabled detailed planning to begin for the construction and development of Russia 2018 venues and infrastructure. Stadium selection for the opening match, semifinals and final of the Russian edition of the FIFA World Cup was also approved, along with host cities for the 2017 Confederations Cup. Several marketing efforts were launched in '12, including the LOC announcing the first Russia 2018 ambassador, Igor Akinfeev, while all of the selected Russia 2018 Host Cities unveiled their official tournament posters (FIFA).
With only a month to go before the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup kicks off in Brasilia, Brazil on June 15, the 10 referee trios have been appointed. The 30 match officials, who represent five of the six confederations, were selected by FIFA’s Referees Committee (FIFA). ... Former Cameroon int'l football player Roger Milla said that the country "would be wasting money by hiring a foreigner to take charge of the national soccer team." Milla said, "Up to now Jean-Paul Akono and his assistants have almost achieved their main mission of qualifying us for the World Cup in 2014. We don't need a new coach, especially a foreigner" (REUTERS, 5/13).