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Volume 6 No. 215

Events and Attractions

Chelsea Chair Bruce Buck appears to be at odds with the club’s owner Roman Abramovich over his sacking of managers, arguing it is better to have a long-term manager in place. Buck was speaking Thursday at the Leaders in Football Summit in Chelsea, where he also took a stance against the English Premier League Financial Fair Play rules, which are to be implemented to make clubs more financially stable. Since Russian oligarch Abramovich acquired Chelsea in '03, the club has had 10 different managers, as it looked to achieve domestic and European dominance. Buck said, “In terms of stability of manager, surely having a manager for a longer than a shorter period of time is better. But you have to have the stability of the right manager. I appreciate we have a lot of managers over the last 10 years, but fortunately for us it has worked out and we have been very successful on the pitch. But the biggest problem for me is the reaction from the fans when we change managers.”

PAYING THE BILLS: Buck also hit out at the Financial Fair Play rules. UEFA has introduced financial controls forcing clubs to break even or face stiff sanctions such as a ban from competing in Europe. The Premier League is also bringing in regulations to prohibit excessive spending. Buck said, “Football has a problem and that is there are some clubs who spend money they do not have, in terms of taxes not being paid and clubs going into bankruptcy. We felt that football should do something from a rule-making perspective, but our approach really was financial stabilization, in other words rules which would require clubs to pay their taxes and would not permit them to spend money they did not have." The problem with FFP, Buck says, is it "goes a long way to preserving the status quo." Buck: "One of the great things about football in this country is that if you are in last place in League Two, you can still hope that someday you will win the Premier League. I think that is difficult if not impossible due to Financial Fair Play."
John Reynolds is a writer in London.

Top-flight Italian football is a “transit destination” which is struggling to hold on to its top talent, according to the withering assessment of Juventus President Andrea Agnelli on the second day of the Leaders in Sport Summit in Chelsea. Agnelli said, “If you look at what Serie A used to represent -- international footballers wanted to come to Serie A. Italy is no longer a final decision but a transit destination.” Agnelli said the club -- one of the most famous in the world and winner of the last two Serie A titles -- would find it difficult to hold onto its top talent, such as French int'l Paul Pogba, should a big offer come in for him. Pogba has thrived in the Italian league since he moved from ManU in the summer of '12. Agnelli: “In a few years time if we get a massive offer for one of the best talents we got today, Pogba, will we be able to retain him? I don’t know. I don’t think at the moment we have the strength to retain such a player.”

VICTIM OF ECONOMY: Economic factors have hit Italian football hard while rival leagues such as the German Bundesliga and English Premier League have grown in popularity and riches. Agnelli says the key is more new stadiums to be built in Serie A, which will attract bigger crowds and, in the long-term, more broadcasting money. Juventus moved to a smaller 41,000 all-seat stadium at the start of the '11-12 season, which is widely considered to be an improvement on its previous home of Stadio delle Alpi. “We are practically sold out all the time,” said Agnelli, unlike in the previous stadium. But, he said, there needs to be more new football stadiums in Italy. Agnelli: “At the end of the day you can be attractive, but you also need to have the economic strength.”
John Reynolds is a writer in London.

Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) spokesperson Jorge Carretero said that Friday's 2014 World Cup qualifier between Spain and Belarus "is not in danger after the explosion of a generator" near Spanish second division side Real Mallorca's Iberostar Stadium. Carretero: "We are not working on changing the date. The only thing to lament is the status of those injured, to whom we wish a speedy recovery." Three people "were hurt, two seriously" (EP, 10/10). ... The Asian leg of the Women's Tennis Association's Premier 5 tour will take place in Wuhan, China at the Wuhan Optical Valley Int'l Tennis Center from Sept. 20-28. Prior "to arriving in Wuhan, the Premier 5 tour will stop at Doha, Rome, Toronto and Cincinnati" (CHINA DAILY, 10/10).