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Volume 6 No. 212


A-League side Central Coast Mariners "could become the first A-League club to assume full operational control of their home ground after submitting an offer to take up the management of Bluetongue Stadium as early as February," according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. On the same day as the club announced its "strategic push into Sydney's northern suburbs by relocating an A–League match to North Sydney Oval," it also submitted its "bid to Gosford City Council to win the rights for Bluetongue Stadium." Entrepreneur John Singleton "currently holds the rights but the venue's only regular tenants are vying for the long-term management in order to set their own terms regarding costs, facilities and upgrades." After the purchase of the rights, the A–League champions "will be able to set operational costs on their own terms and will receive greater profits from ticketing and food and beverage services." GM Peter Turnbull vowed that the club "will also tailor the venue to fan entertainment, should they be successful, and earmarked the possibility of implementing a beach within the ground similar to that used in the cricket last season." The club also "has ambitions beyond the A-League and is looking to establish the scenic ground as a future home of Australia's youth and women's national football teams" (SMH, 8/6).

Japan Professional Football League club Gamba Osaka is turning to its supporters and local businesses to try and raise the remaining 3B yen ($30M) it needs to build its new 40,000-capacity stadium, due for completion in mid-2015. Construction on the 14B yen ($140 million) football-dedicated stadium to replace the current 21,000-seater multi-purpose arena was scheduled to begin in July, but was pushed back to December for further surveys after tunnels were discovered under the new site, a former World War II munitions dump. This allowed Gamba to resume its fundraising drive this month after donations from supporters fell sharply following the team’s relegation from the top division to J2 last season. Gamba spokesperson Koichi Otani told SBD Global, “The original campaign finished in March this year, but has now been extended to March 31, 2014. The aim is to collect all the money from private sources: fans and businesses.”

ECONOMIC LIMITATIONS: Gamba’s owner Panasonic is reported to have provided 8B yen ($80M) in funding for the stadium, but the Osaka-headquartered electronics giant lost more than 1.5 trillion yen ($15B) over the last two years, and is unlikely to stump up any more. Facing fundraising problems, Gamba considered a 32,000-seater stadium, but Otani confirmed that it was going ahead with plans for a 40,000 capacity venue that would meet FIFA regulations on hosting World Cup games. Gamba won the Asian Champions League in '08 and average attendances peaked at 17,712 the following season, but with relegation last year, crowds dropped to 14,778 and they were overshadowed by cross-town rivals Cerezo, which averaged 16,913. Gamba is currently first in J2 and looks set to return to the top division.
Gavin Blair is a writer based in Tokyo.

A Moscow City Hall official said Tuesday that "FIFA has allowed Moscow to reduce the seating capacity of Luzhniki Stadium to 81,000 for the 2018 World Cup," according to R-SPORT. Plans already approved by FIFA "had envisaged 89,000 seated places at the cavernous arena." FIFA's concession "allows the stadium to undergo minimal refurbishments." Moscow acting Deputy Mayor Marat Khusnullin said, "This means that Luzhniki will be saved" (R-SPORT, 8/6).