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Volume 6 No. 216


A planned $1B "Real Madrid-branded resort" in Ras al-Khaimah (RAK), UAE has been halted and a RAK Marjan Island football senior exec said that "the project may be switched to Abu Dhabi," according to REUTERS. The 50-hectare attraction was to have "been built on the man-made Marjan Island in RAK, 105km north of its more illustrious neighbor Dubai." Drawings were displayed for a "405-room hotel, a marina and yacht club and a Real Madrid museum, plus an amusement park and a 10,000-capacity stadium." At the time, Luxembourg-based Real Madrid Resort Island CEO Louis-Armand de Rouge said that "the complex would open in January 2015." Building work, however, "never started." Marjan Island Project Dir Michael Hernandez said that "Rouge's company did not buy the land upon which the resort was meant to be built." He said the project had been "put on hold" and that Marjan Island "had no commitments relating to the resort" (REUTERS, 9/22). BLOOMBERG's Duff & Fattah reported Real Madrid said in a report that "RAK Marjan Island Football assumed all the financial risks of the project." Real Madrid, "which agreed to a 22-year license, said it will search for alternative projects" in the UAE, "without giving more details" (BLOOMBERG, 9/22).

RESORT PROVES UNREAL: ARABIAN BUSINESS' Daniel Shane opined "if ever there was an ill-fit for a branded-mega project this was it." Given that the developer, Real Madrid Resort Island, "did not secure any funding for the project and never even owned the land on which it was to be built, the news that the attraction has been shelved -- or possibly relocated to Abu Dhabi -- will come as a revelation to few" (ARABIAN BUSINESS, 9/22).

MADRID SEEKING ALTERNATIVE: DEPOR reported Real Madrid President Florentino Peréz's "dream of an artificial island inspired and based on the history" and philosophy of Real Madrid "is far from becoming reality." The project "was canceled and it will now not be able to be built in this Arab country." This, however, "will not stop Real Madrid from looking for a new location in another nearby country like Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup" (DEPOR, 9/19).

The voters of Zürich, Switzerland's nine voting eligible districts "have said 'no' to the proposed new football stadium," according to BLICK. It "was a very close referendum with 50.8% voting against the stadium plans." Only the voters of districts 3, 4, 5 and 9 "voted for the stadium." The voter turnout was 49.1%. The result means that the city's two professional football clubs, FC Zürich and Grasshopper Club Zürich, "will continue to play their home games at Letzigrund, which is a track and field stadium." Former Swiss men's national team coach Köbi Kuhn said, "It is sad. But you have to take it how it comes." The proposed stadium would have required a CHF 220M ($242M) loan from the city. FC Zürich President Ancillo Canepa said that "the two clubs now have to start new talks with the city because there is no plan B" (BLICK, 9/22).

Australian bank St. George, which holds a 50% stake in National Rugby League club St. George Illawara Dragons, owes Kogarah Council more than A$250,000 ($235,000) "in rent for the use of their Sydney home ground." St. George District Football Club "has an outstanding debt" of about A$270,000 to the council and "is about 18 months behind in full repayments for the leasing of WIN Jubilee Oval plus insurance, and utilities fees for the venue" (BRISBANE TIMES, 9/21). ... Bulgaria's Sofia stadium debate "has taken another twist with President & Owner of Slavia Sofia Ventsislav Stefanov announcing that he is in negotiation" with the PFC Ludogorets Razgrad Owner Kiril Domuschiev "to build a new joint stadium in Sofia." PFC Ludogorets has "won the Bulgarian champions for the past two years but play home games at Razgrad -- a small town in north-east of Bulgaria." Slavia "had originally wanted to share the new arena with another metropolitan club CSKA Sofia," but the management of CSKA has refused to move away from its current stadium which is situated at the heart of Sofia (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 9/20).