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Volume 6 No. 212


Barcelona President Sandro Rosell "has claimed that it was a real wrench to make the decision to bar children under seven from coming to matches at the Camp Nou without a ticket," according to MARCA. This policy "will come into force" starting with the "Clásico" against Real Madrid on Oct. 26, amid "reports that 'up to 40,000 children without a ticket' were set to attend the match," owing to the early kickoff time of 6pm. Rosell: "No one is more against the decision I've made from a popular standpoint, but it was one that had to be made, it is my responsibility. I'd rather wake up to headlines reading 'Rosell won't let kids in' than ones saying 'Rosell was responsible for a kid's death.'" Rosell said that "this decision has not been taken lightly." Rosell said, "The security experts warned us that instead of 10,000 kids, some 40,000 could turn up for a Barça-Real Madrid game. That would give us an attendance of 140,000 people. It's not a question of respecting the law, but [we're worried that] anything could happen in the third tier of the stadium" (MARCA, 10/16). EL MUNDO reported Spanish state of Catalonia government official Ramón Espadaler said, "From our perspective there was no problem. It is a correct decision because it deals with over-capacity. We are studying what to do, but in high-risk games, there will not be exceptions" (EL MUNDO, 10/16).

FORMER VP CRITICAL: In Barcelona, Toni Quintana reported former Barcelona VP Alfons Godall "was very critical of Rosell's decision." Godall sided with "the families that, starting now, will possibly not be able to go with their children to see their favorite idols." Godall: "It is a shame because many Barcelona families will be affected. It is a life-long tradition that has always allowed children younger than seven free entry. What surprises me is that this happens with the Clásico in sight. I share the disappointment and sadness that many families and children are feeling" (SPORT, 10/16).

Scottish League 1 Dunfermline fan group Pars United has announced it has taken control of the team after "completing the acquisition of the club from administrator BDO," according to the BBC. The new owner intends to "proceed towards coming out of administration" at the Court of Session "in due course." Pars United has "also acquired the club's East End Park home from administrator KPMG." Dunfermline's new interim board of directors includes former Manager Jim Leishman. Pars United's Bob Garmory has been appointed the team's new chair and will be joined "on the interim board by Leishman, Ian Hunter, Kip McBay, Craig McWhirter and Margaret Ross." General manager duties "will be shared by Ross McArthur and David McMorrine" (BBC, 10/16).

Scottish League 1 Rangers CEO Craig Mather "has left the Ibrox side" citing the "incessant attempts to destabilise the operations of the club" among the reasons for his "shock departure," according to Gregor Kyle of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. The news was confirmed to the stock exchange Wednesday morning, alongside the resignation of Non-Exec Dir Bryan Smart, with Mather leaving ''by mutual consent.'' The departures come just days after former Ibrox Dir Paul Murray won a “stunning victory” against the board at the Court of Session. Murray immediately "called for the heads" of Directors Mather and Brian Stockbridge (DAILY RECORD, 10/16). The SCOTSMAN reported Mather went on to say he regretted the ongoing boardroom battles, but insisted he had left the club on a solid footing despite the challenges posed. Mather: "Despite recent events and speculation, the facts of the matter are that the club is financially secure and in a far better place than it was a year ago. Unlike most football clubs Rangers has money in the bank, no borrowings and this season we have assembled a squad which is capable of progressing through the leagues" (SCOTSMAN, 10/16). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported Mather said he hoped his departure would end the "current hysteria" surrounding the running of Rangers. Mather, who said he had invested a million pounds in the club, "stepped in to replace Green initially on an interim basis and was confirmed in the role only three months ago." Green's departure "led to feuding between rival factions seeking to control the club." In a statement, Mather said, "My short tenure as chief executive has been beset by incessant attempts to destabilize the operations of the club, all done supposedly in the interests of Rangers" (REUTERS, 10/16). The BBC reported the boardroom departures of Mather and Smart "follow those" of Non-Exec Dir Ian Hart and Chair Walter Smith. And former Ibrox manager Smith has since urged the club to resolve its "boardroom turmoil" (BBC, 10/16).

Former Real Madrid Finance Dir Juan Onieva has "slammed current president Florentino Perez’s handling of the club, claiming that he left the club" in '00 with half the debt it has now, according to INSIDE SPANISH FOOTBALL. Onieva worked under former Real President Lorenzo Sanz, and he "was replaced when Sanz lost the 2000 election to Perez, who then set about ushering in the 'galactico era.'" Onieva is "vehemently in opposition to the current president of the club, claiming that he is plunging the club deeper and deeper into debt." Onieva stated that he "feels Perez’s aim is to control the club by turning it into a PLC, and hopes to accomplish this in the coming years." Onieva added that "the fact that Perez insists big money signings are part of the plan at the club shows just how little he cares for it" (INSIDE SPANISH FOOTBALL, 10/16). In Madrid, Marco Ruiz reported Onieva discussed Perez and the current state of Real Madrid. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Have you seen Real Madrid's accounts?
Onieva: Yes, and I have seen what economic experts have said about them. I remember that one of Perez's main principles when he arrived in 2000 was the importance of eliminating what he called a "scandalous debt."

Q: How much debt did you and Sanz leave behind for Perez and the club?
Onieva: Less than half of what there is now. It was at around €260 million. And 50 percent of this debt was from repurchase of image rights, something fundamental in helping Real Madrid later increase its revenue.

Q: How do you evaluate Perez's management?
Onieva: It is clear that Perez's ultimate goal is make the club a PLC and end up controlling it. To do this, he has brought the debt to a limit. It is an old plan of his that comes from 2000. His economic plan is a preconceived plan. What he did not count on was athletic difficulty. It is not a question of of opinions, it is about facts. The debt is scandalous and the €400 million ($540M) Santiago Bernabeu project is absurd. Eventually, the debt will be €1 billion ($1.3B) and Perez will still say, "I did not want it, but..."

Q: What do you think of how the roster has been managed?
Onieva: He has shown his lack of knowledge of what makes a team. You sell shirts based on sporting success. We are the only big European club that has not played a Champions League final since 2003. It’s a complete sporting disaster. It is ridiculous for the president of a team like Madrid to be happy with reaching a few semifinals. We have the biggest budget in the world (AS, 10/14).