The European Commission "is looking into claims" that Scottish Premiership side Celtic "broke EU rules in land deals involving Glasgow City Council," according to the BBC. Officials in Brussels said that they "had asked for detailed information after receiving a number of complaints." In a statement, the council "confirmed one of the complaints focussed on land deals around Celtic Park in the east end of the city." The Commission said that "it had not yet opened a formal investigation." A Scottish government spokesperson said, "We are aware of these allegations and we are working with the relevant parties to help the Commission to investigate this case consistent with our role to ensure public funds in Scotland are used in compliance with EU state aid regulations" (BBC, 1/8). In Glasgow, Hannah Rodger reported Celtic has hit out at "baseless accusations" that it "benefited from state aid in historic land deals." The rebuttal came after the commission "received a number of complaints" relating to the purchase of land around Celtic Park and asked for detailed information from Glasgow City Council and Celtic. Its training complex "was built on the grounds of the disused Lennox Castle Hospital in East Dunbartonshire." Celtic "dismissed the claims as 'ludicrous'" and said, "Celtic Football Club operates to the highest standards and with the utmost integrity" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 1/9).
Ducati Racing "is hoping a shock change to its MotoGP program will help take the struggling Italian team back to the front of the field," according to William Dale of FOX SPORTS. Reports suggest that the team is "considering running all of its bikes in MotoGP's 'Open' class instead of as a 'Factory' team." The Open class is "the new designation for the former 'Claiming Rules Team' category, as part of the changes to MotoGP's 2014 regulations." Under the rules, Open bikes "are allowed to use 24 litres of fuel compared to the Factory teams' 20." Another advantage is that Factory teams "are restricted to using just five engines per bike throughout the season and are not allowed to develop them between the start and end of the year." Open teams are allowed to go through 12 and "can upgrade their engines in the quest for performance" (FOX SPORTS, 1/9).
Lotus F1 Team Principal Eric Boullier said that his team "will not be the only team to miss Formula One's first pre-season test in Spain this month," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Boullier said that "the decision not to attend was no cause for concern." He said, "Everything is fine here. Lotus will be on the grid this year and for a long time. You will see, we will not be the only team not being in Jerez. I know this for a fact already." The first '14 test "is seen as particularly important, with teams working with a new V6 turbo engine with energy recovery systems and only three four-day tests available before the season starts in Australia in March." McLaren is due to launch its new car online on the Friday before testing while Mercedes and Caterham have said theirs will be presented on the first day at Jerez (REUTERS, 1/9).
Spanish third division side Racing Santander fans entered the box of club President Angel Lavin to "throw drinks at the club's owner" during a Copa del Rey match Wednesday against Almeria at Racing's El Sardinero stadium, according to FOOTBALL ESPANA. Racing's "private security had to be called in to calm the situation down, but not before Lavin was assaulted by fans" who decided to "protest against the club's precarious financial situation." Racing is the only team from the Spanish third division still playing in the Copa del Rey. Earlier, Racing players "refused to start playing when the game began as a protest against the debt the club owes to its players, who have not been paid since September." The Spanish Footballers Association said in a statement, "The Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) wishes to announce that the protest carried out by the Racing Santander players at the start of their Copa del Rey last 16 first leg game with Almeria took place owing to the following circumstances: As of today, the footballers are still owed their salaries for the months of October, November and December. The club's board have now gone back on their promise to pay the players a part of the money owed three times. Ángel Lavín, the club’s president, both in public and private, promised the squad they would receive the money owed to them by 31 December, at the latest, but that promise has not been fulfilled" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 1/9). In Madrid, Javier Rubio reported club sources indicated that Racing is preparing to "take legal action against those who entered Lavin's box." The club "believes the attack was planned out using social media networks" (EL MUNDO, 1/9).