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Volume 10 No. 22


Liverpool fans "want the impossible -- instant success on the one hand, and a sensible, well-run club on the other," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The club's Principal Owner John Henry said as much in an open letter at the start of the season. As Liverpool prepares for a preseason tour of Australia and Asia, Henry and Managing Dir Ian Ayre hope that "the message of prudent, long-term planning is sinking in with the fans of one of the world’s most famous clubs." Ayre "calls for realism." He said, "We are in a kind of virtuous circle. The more revenue we can generate, the more we can invest in our team." Henry's Fenway Sports Group "embarked on a spending spree on new players after buying the club" in Oct. '10, notably paying £35M for striker Andy Carroll. The club "is once again buying new players, but without the recklessness of the past." Barely a week into this summer’s transfer window, four players have been bought for a combination of no more than £25M ($37M), and the club has cut its losses with Carroll, selling him to West Ham United for £15M ($22M) (FT, 7/5).

RISING TICKET PRICES: In a separate piece, Blitz reported Liverpool is "calling for a co-ordinated approach from the Premier League to deal with the rising cost of tickets, putting it into conflict with league officials who say ticket prices are a matter for the clubs." Liverpool fans "are particularly riled at the club’s decision to introduce a tiered ticketing system for the coming season, which in some parts of its Anfield stadium has meant an increase" of up to 9%. A single ticket for a top game at Anfield can cost up to £52 ($77). Ayre: "I absolutely have some sympathy for fans in terms of ticket pricing. What is important is we find a solution as a league. It is very difficult to find it as an individual club. The solution has to be found within all clubs." That view is shared by U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson. He said, "It is a Premier League issue" (FT, 7/5).

Fans and partners of FC Barcelona will have "the opportunity to provide input" on new club statutes on July 10, according to Toni Frieros of SPORT. Barcelona's Magna Carta, which has been collaborated on by rights and legal specialists, "has modernized the team, and above all else, made it a democracy." In '01, former Barcelona President Joan Gaspart limited the possibility of serving as club president to two terms. Joan Laporta, the club's president in '09, introduced six-year terms. Barcelona President Sandro Rosell has changed this statutory authority. The new article says that "if the board wants to move elections forward, it can do it, but in this case the new presidential period will be five years." For example, "if Rosell wants to hold elections in December or May, the time that passes until the following June 30 will count as another season" (SPORT, 7/7).  

The Foundation of Scottish Premier League side Heart of Midlothian has turned down an offer from a group led by former Scottish Rugby Union CEO Gordon McKie to "submit a joint bid for the Tynecastle club, revealing instead a preference to either work with another backer or go it alone," according to the HERALD SCOTLAND. McKie "would only prolong his interest in taking the club out of administration alongside the Foundation." The fans-led body, however, has "instead elected to go down a different route, effectively ending McKie's involvement." McKie's consortium was "confident Hearts could exit administration via a Company Voluntary Agreement and offered to meet that cost" -- thought to be in the region of £3M ($4.5M) -- if the Foundation could fund the requisite working capital. The Foundation will now turn to an alternative funding source to help with its bid, "with businesswoman Ann Budge among those quoted as possible investors." Business services firm BDO partner Trevor Birch had spoken of "three or four" parties showing credible interest, "but with McKie out of the running and others yet to show their hand, there is a growing feeling that the Foundation's bid may be the only one on the table come Friday's deadline, something that may influence their offer" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 7/6).