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Volume 6 No. 212

International Football

A number of Premier League clubs "are introducing reciprocal deals to reduce the price of tickets for away fans," according to the BBC. Newcastle United has "agreed deals with West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City," while the Welsh club has a further agreement in place with Hull City. Newcastle Finance Dir John Irving said, "We believe the right way to encourage people to attend is to look at charging reasonable prices." Swansea fans will pay a reduced price of £20 ($32) for adults and £5 ($8) for concessions at Hull and Newcastle, "with the same prices in place for the return fixtures at the Liberty Stadium." Traveling supporters from Newcastle and West Brom will both pay £15 ($24) for adults and £5 for concessions "when their teams face each other" (BBC, 10/17). In London, Ian Herbert wrote ManU, Arsenal and Liverpool have said that they will knock between £2 ($3) and £4 ($6) "off the prices their fans pay them for all away tickets." The deals "reveal the substantial savings that reciprocal pricing can deliver for Category A clubs." The agreement with West Bromwich will result in a saving of £24 ($38) (61.5%) for Newcastle fans from the £39 ($63) "they were charged for an adult away ticket when the sides drew 1-1 at the Hawthorns last season." Albion fans will save £11 ($18) (42.3%) compared to the £26 ($42) away ticket price at St. James' Park a year ago. Newcastle's deal with supporter-owned Swansea -- its longest return trip at 719 miles -- will save £15 ($24) (almost 43%) on the £35 ($56) "charged at the Liberty Stadium last season," with Swans fans receiving a third off the £30 ($48) they paid on Tyneside (INDEPENDENT, 10/17).

WELCOMED BY FANS: Also in London, Sam Adams wrote fans have welcomed plans "to cut ticket prices for away supporters." Football Supporters' Federation CEO Kevin Miles said, "The FSF is delighted to welcome the announcement by Newcastle United of their offer of a reciprocal pricing agreement for tickets for away fans at Premier League fixtures. This is a significant breakthrough in turning the concept of affordable prices for away fans into a reality, and Newcastle United, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City are to be commended for taking a lead in this area" (MIRROR, 10/17). THE JOURNAL's Mark Douglas wrote Newcastle's pricing agreement is "a welcome and much-needed step forward for a club that is pledging to play a vanguard role in driving ticket costs south." According to Irving, "[Newcastle Owner Mike] Ashley’s attitude on pricing is driven by one thing: to fill every single seat in the stadium." That means innovative ticket deals, match packages and -- most of all -- "reducing the cost of going to games, both at home and away." This latest idea, a first of its kind in the top flight, "is to try to drive down the cost of going to away matches by agreeing reciprocal deals on prices." It "is being billed as the first shot in a revolution in the way clubs deal with away fans, but it is underpinned by what seems like common sense." Irving: "Price is key. Supporters have a choice on what they want to spend their money on, and if we want to fill the stadium, we need to reduce the price" (THE JOURNAL, 10/17).

Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo "is to stand down in December just six months before the country hosts the World Cup," according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. Rebelo said that he "would make way for someone new" after delivering the 12 stadiums to be used in the tournament, all of which "are due to be ready by December." Rebelo said that he was resigning "to run for office in next October's elections" (REUTERS, 10/17). The MERCO PRESS reported Rebelo, of the Communist Party, "has played a key role in the organization of the sporting jamboree." Rebelo insisted that his decision to concentrate on his state governorship ambitions "would not hit World Cup preparations." Rebelo: "It would be very much to overestimate my function and role. This is the 20th World Cup -- the other 19 took place without my participation" (MERCO PRESS, 10/17).

Italy's World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro "welcomed the sale" of Serie A side Inter Milan to an Indonesian businessman, and said that Italy "needs foreign backers in troubled economic times," according to the AFP. Cannavaro said that Italian football "is in dire need of a cash injection and domestic investors are thin on the ground." He was speaking after Indonesian billionaire Erick Thohir "snapped up a majority stake" in Inter Milan "in the first Asian purchase of an Italian club." Cannavaro said, "I’m happy about it because we don’t have investors in Italy. We need new forces because our football needs to grow from the economic point of view. We need to improve the quality of stadiums and infrastructure." But Cannavaro said he that "had no concerns about following the example of the English football, where widespread foreign ownership has produced mixed results." Cannavaro: "I think it’s a great thing" (AFP, 10/17).

Libya's "most popular" football club, Tripoli's Al-Ahly, has "withdrawn in protest from the newly relaunched Libyan Football League after their coach was shot at while at home, players were threatened and star player Mohamed Al-Maghrabi was shot in the arm," according to Mark Baber of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Al-Ahly Chair Sasi Buown said that the club "had pulled out of the league on a temporary basis, with a meeting of players, staff and board members scheduled for Friday." A source at the Libyan Football Federation said, "As far as I know, we have received no official notification of Al-Ahly's withdrawal from the league. But the situation is very tough right now. We are going to be pushing the interior ministry to provide more security for all the teams. Tripoli Al-Ahly is one of the best teams in the country. It will affect the league if they quit. We will try to convince them not to" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/17).

The Italian Football Federation "has adjusted the rules on racist and ‘territorial’ discrimination, taking into account how many fans are behind the abuse." While ''territorial discrimination'' will continue to be punished on a par with racist abuse, the sanctions imposed on clubs "will be eased in the presence of different factors." Above all, the Disciplinary Commission will take into account "how many fans were behind the insulting chants or banners, therefore only the area of the stadium where these occurred will be closed off" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 10/16). ... One of South Africa’s national referees "has been arrested for possible match-fixing." The South African FA said that it "has been informed of the arrest by the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation" (AP, 10/17). ... Twelve football matches in Russia are among several hundred worldwide that have been identified by FIFA "as being possibly fixed" (MOSCOW NEWS, 10/17). ... FIFA and the Oceania Football Confederation have "appointed a normalisation committee to take control of the Solomon Islands Football Federation" after the federation's funding "was put on hold whilst an investigation looks into poor accounting by the federation's administrators" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/17). ... The FA of Malaysia has "rejected the idea of capping salaries to curb match-fixing." FAM General Secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said that salary cap "was not the answer to match-fixing" (THE STAR, 10/17). ... Argentina's Security Committee has "decided to close sections" of the stadiums of Argentine first division sides River Plate and Boca Juniors as punishment "for failing to meet required security measures at recent games." River's penalty "is more harsh." River will have to "close the upper Centenario section (which has a capacity of 1,710) of its El Monumental stadium." If River does "not meet the future security requirements being demanded by Wednesday, the punishment will become more severe." Boca Juniors will have to close the "tercera bandeja sur" ("south median strip") at its La Bombonera stadium. Boca "has until Wednesday to present its appeal to the sanction" (CLARIN, 10/16).