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Volume 6 No. 213

International Football

Argentine football club Boca Juniors "launched the first ever Boca Juniors Football School India," according to IANS. Boca Juniors "will be the first Latin American football club to launch a football school in India." The club "plans to take the BJFSI around the country with the first school being launched in Bengaluru." BJFSI "will run the football school on an ongoing basis round the year and provide progressive training to the students through weekly classes following Boca Juniors methodology." All these classes "would be administered by coaches from the Argentine club." Boca Juniors Chair Daniel Angelici said, "Football is growing in popularity in India year by year and we strongly believe we can play a role in developing the sport. Our style of football is completely different to the rest of the world and we hope to pass this on to the young generation here" (IANS, 5/15).

EASTERN EXPANSION: The CHINA DAILY reported Chinese Super League club Guangzhou R&F "signed a partnership deal" with EPL side Chelsea on Tuesday, which will see the parties jointly open a football school in Guangdong province. The school, based in Meizhou, "will recruit more than 200 students aged between nine and 12 from September" (CHINA DAILY, 5/15).

Scottish Premier League Heart of Midlothian "faces further scrutiny over the state of their finances" as reports suggest that four SPL clubs have written to league bosses amid suspicions that Tynecastle chiefs "are masking their money problems in order to avoid relegation," according to the SCOTSMAN. SPL chiefs have been asked to provide "clarification" on Hearts’ immediate future after the collapse of majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov’s Ukio Bankas empire. Hearts owe Ukio Bankas about £15M ($22.8M), an amount which, if administrators for the bank called it in, "would in turn spell administration for the club." Rival SPL clubs "suspect that Hearts are delaying an announcement on their administration in order to avoid relegation from Scotland’s top flight." If Hearts were to declare themselves insolvent before the end of the season on Monday, the club "would be relegated to the First Division by way of a 17-point deduction that would automatically place them below Dundee" (SCOTSMAN, 5/15).

Spanish Football League (LFP) President Javier Tebas assured that La Liga clubs "Deportivo, Murcia, Rácing and Xerex are the clubs that are in a more delicate situation in the economic aspect, to the point that Rácing and Xerex are in danger of disappearing," according to the EFE. Tebas has appeared "concerned by the economic situation of Spanish football in general" and has said that "the LFP is going to take much more seriously its responsibility to regulate." One of his first objectives is to "eliminate league debt by '20" (EFE, 5/15).

Should "the football gods so desire, two results on the last weekend of the Premier League season could force Arsenal and Chelsea into an historic playoff for the third automatic Champions League qualification spot," according to White & Edgar of the LONDON TIMES. If Arsenal win 2-1 away to Newcastle United and Chelsea’s match with Everton at Stamford Bridge ends in a goalless draw, the London sides "will finish the campaign in joint third place, level on points, goal difference and goals scored." There are six cases of teams finishing dead level in English league history, but "it would be the first time that a playoff is used to separate them" (LONDON TIMES, 5/15). In London, Cross & McLeman reported the losers "would finish fourth and have to negotiate a two-leg playoff in August to reach the Champions League proper." The situation is complicated by the fact that Chelsea heads straight off to the U.S. after Sunday's matches to play Man City in two friendlies on May 23 and 25 (MIRROR, 5/14). The IRISH INDEPENDENT wrote Premier League chiefs "will draw up contingency plans" for a possible playoff between Arsenal and Chelsea but Wembley Stadium "is unlikely to be pencilled in as the venue." The league "carried out similar contingency planning back in 1996" when ManU and Newcastle "had very similar points and goals totals going into the last few matches of the season, and even booked Wembley and printed some tickets for a possible title playoff." In the event, ManU "went on to win the title by four points" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 5/15).

The crisis brought about by multi-level marketing companies that have been putting money in popular Indian football clubs like Kingfisher East Bengal and Mohun Bagan AC "is now threatening to hit the players as their contracts come up for renewal next month," according to Digbijay Mishra of the Indian BUSINESS STANDARD. There are apprehensions that while most of the foreign players may get the same pay, "domestic players may face a cut." The Saradha group, which has defrauded several thousand small investors in Bengal, "was one of the lead sponsors for Mohun Bagan AC and after the scam was unearthed last month the budget for renewal of contracts with the players is likely to see contraction." Mohun Bagan AC Finance Secretary Debashish Dutta said that "there are no sectors in the state which are out of the reach of such chit fund companies," and football clubs too have received decent sponsorship deals from these companies from time to time. Dutta: "Now that the company has gone bust and many such other companies are also under stress, budget renewal of the contracts will see a definite cut of around 30 percent. Some common point has to be arrived at with the players" (BUSINESS STANDARD, 5/15).

La Liga clubs Espanyol and Rayo Vallecano have had applications to compete in European competition next season rejected by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), but Málaga had its granted, according to FOOTBALL ESPAÑA. Málaga is "facing a 12-month ban from UEFA club competition for financial irregularities, pending an appeal" taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS). However, Málaga has met the prerequisite of receiving a UEFA license from its domestic football association, in the case that its appeal is successful. Clubs must apply each season for a UEFA license from the RFEF "in order to play in the following season’s European competition, should they qualify." One point of requirement "is that all debts outstanding are settled by the previous Dec. 31." Rayo Vallecano and Espanyol have both seen applications turned down, reportedly both "on the grounds that financial conditions were not satisfactory, but they may appeal the decision" (FOOTBALL ESPAÑA, 5/15). In Madrid, Rafael Pineda reported a Málaga source said, "It is good news for our interests, it shows what we have accomplished and that the resource plan that we have presented to the TAS makes all the sense in the world. Málaga meets all the requirements to play in Europe" (EL PAIS, 5/14).

The images of Barcelona's celebration of its La Liga title have caused varied reactions, according to EL PERIODICO. On Wednesday, VP of drug dependence for Catalonia's Public Health Authority Joan Colom "asked the Spanish club to reflect and think over the presence of alcohol in its celebrations." Colom explained the importance of "the images shown during the celebrations." Colom: "I can understand that they are young people, under pressure during the season, but the road seemed to me a spectacle of low quality" (EL PERIODICO, 5/15). ... Barcelona will begin its '13-14 preseason campaign with a friendly at Poland July 20 (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 5/15). ... The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the award of a 3-0 win to Dynamo Moscow, imposed by the Football Union of Russia, after the game between Dynamo and Zenit was abandoned after Dynamo's goalkeeper was hit by a flare thrown by Zenit fans. The panel "also rejected Zenit's requests to sanction Dynamo Moscow" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 5/15). ... Fans of Brasileiro club Corinthians launched fireworks early Wednesday morning outside the hotel where Argentinian club Boca Juniors players and coaches are staying while preparing for Wednesday's Copa Libertadores match. The Corinthians fans launched the fireworks at 1:30am to prevent Boca Juniors from sleeping (OLE, 5/15).