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Volume 6 No. 213


The outstanding payments owed by Cycling Australia to broadcaster SBS that threaten coverage of Australia's main domestic races next year "are understood to be among a number of claims for unpaid money against the national body," according to Rupert Guinness of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Several contractors other than SBS "are owed money for services." A number of cycling stakeholders "have also expressed grave concerns over CA's financial position in general." The Australian Sports Commission, which has played a big role in effecting change, "also labelled CA as 'low' in its latest 'governance progress assessment' as part of its Winning Edge 2012-22 initiative." The ASC "is calling on all sports to operate more like businesses." The ASC "is also pushing for change at CA" and has already said the presidency vacated by Klaus Mueller "could go to someone outside the sport, as the Swimming Australia presidency went to sailing legend John Bertrand" (SMH, 10/31).

French President François Hollande "showed no mercy for France’s top football clubs on Thursday, refusing to let them off paying" his 75% income tax bracket on salaries above €1M ($1.37M), according to Hugh Carnegy of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The clubs "had protested that the 'unfair and discriminatory' levy threatened 'the death of French football,' cancelling all games over the last weekend of November in an unprecedented strike action in protest." But Hollande, under "withering fire from the French media" and opposition for a series of recent U-turns on tax, "had little alternative but to hold the line on a measure that was the flagship promise of his 2012 election campaign." A statement from the Elysée Palace after a special meeting with football administrators said that "the president reminded them the tax would apply for two years to all companies concerned." After the constitutional court ruled out applying the tax to individuals, Hollande "decided employers should instead pay the levy." The statement said, "The need to redress the public finances clearly justifies the effort made of businesses that make the choice to pay annual salaries at such a level." Professional football clubs union (UCPF) President Jean-Pierre Louvel said that "the strike at the end of November would go ahead and the clubs would boycott a commission set up by the government to look into football’s difficulties" (FT, 10/31).

An Argentine court has called off an "investigation into money laundering in player trades in Argentine football," according to Andrés Morando of OLE. Football can "now breathe again." The investigation "had a shocking title: money laundering in football." It involved "trades of more than 30 players and leaders of 15 Argentine clubs," including Boca Juniors, River Plate and Independiente. There "had been an accusation that foreign clubs buying players from Argentine teams had paid more than what the players' former clubs received in the transactions." The rest of the money "was believed to have been directed to other countries before returning to Uruguay and Chile, with all the manipulation directed by the Alhec Group, a company that often works with Argentine clubs." However, "despite all the suspicion, no reason was found to proceed with the case." The three judges "who made the decision were Eduardo Freiler, Eduardo Farah and Jorge Ballestero" (OLE, 10/31).

INVESTMENT FUNDS ON LFP RADAR: The Spanish Football League (LFP) is "now working on regulating the presence of investment funds that are beginning to play a bigger role in the buying and selling of players," according to Ramón Fuentes of MARCA. In La Liga, "investment firms are becoming common for many teams." This is the case with Getafe, Sevilla, Atlético, Sporting, Elche and Valencia, and "the most active investment group is the Doyen Group." Until now, "no club has complained about Doyen's presence." Because of this, the LFP is working on a legal framework to regulate the role of these funds. The aim is to "demand transparency and establish limits on the percentages received in player acquisitions." Any investment group could "only receive a percentage less than what the club receives in a transaction." This will be "a key topic on the table during upcoming negotiations of the next agreement between the LFP and the Spanish Footballers Association (AFE)" (MARCA, 10/31).   

The court hearing Lionel Messi’s tax case "has been told the Barcelona player did not have any role in managing his own ‘image rights’ income," according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN. Messi and his father, Jorge, "gave evidence in court in late September, answering charges the pair evaded" more than €4M ($5.4M) in taxes between '07 and '09 by "routing such 'image rights' income through offshore tax havens." The pair "deny any wrongdoing." The case's judge was "told by experts" from the Spanish tax authorities (Hacienda) in a hearing Wednesday that Messi "did not 'manage' his own image rights." It now "looks likely" that Messi "will not face further direct punishment" (ESPN, 10/31). The DPA reported Messi had already paid the courts a total of €5M ($6.8M) in "reparations" (DPA, 10/30).

MESSI DEFRAUDED IN ARGENTINA: MUNDO DEPORTIVO reported a judge in Messi's hometown of Rosario, Argentina charged Rodolfo Héctor Schinocca, a former Messi family accountant, with keeping €2.5M ($3.4M) in image rights income from Messi from '04-'06, when Messi was a minor. Schinocca has been fined €620,000 ($842,800) (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 10/31). 

Former National Rugby League Parramatta Eels Chair Roy Spagnolo was "cast out by Parramatta after being accused of more than 30 instances of financial impropriety, from procuring free memberships and travel for family and friends, improperly paying large bonuses to executives and even allegedly using the back of a beer coaster" to bill the club A$30,000 ($28,400) for a Christmas party held at his house, according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Spagnolo was "banned from holding a directorship at Parramatta for two years after fronting the board this week." New South Wales Hospitality Minister George Souris said that the "Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing would investigate the contents of a 900-page report into the management practices of the former Parramatta Leagues Club administration and could refer matters to NSW police." Spagnolo, "who was defeated at the club election in May, features heavily in the audit, conducted by Russell Corporate Advisory." Spagnolo denied any wrongdoing on Thursday and said that he had "no intention of vacating the chairmanship of the Eels' junior body, the Parramatta District Rugby League Club." Among the claims are that he authorized the "issue, without payment, of at least 78 memberships." It was also alleged that "similar issuing of free memberships -- understood to be season-ticket packages" -- was conducted in '10 and '11, at a cost of as much as A$22,000 to the Eels (SMH, 11/1).