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Volume 6 No. 195


Super League side Bradford Bulls "are finally under the ownership of the club's board of directors," according to SKY SPORTS. An agreement was reached in early January for former Owner Omar Khan "to transfer his shareholding to the Bulls' current board." That deal did not go through owing to "unforeseen circumstances," and early on Friday the impasse led to Khan's holding company being placed into administration. The club was then bought by Bradford Bulls 2014 Ltd., "a company run by those same directors, who insist the club's Super League status is secure" (SKY SPORTS, 2/1). In Bradford, Ross Heppenstall wrote the new owners "will meet Rugby Football League bosses next week as they seek ratification of the club’s change of ownership." The Super League outfit announced on Friday that it had entered administration for the second time in 19 months. Khan, who along with Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe took over the Bulls in Sep. '12, on Friday told of his shock at the move to put OK Bulls Ltd. into administration and said that "he was seeking legal advice." Khan "stepped down from the helm of the club at the end of September, but continued to hold 99 of 100 shares" in OK Bulls Ltd., with the remaining share held by Leeds-based business Safeguard Security Ltd. Khan: “I am shocked and surprised at today’s events regarding OK Bulls Ltd. I have referred this matter to my legal team. I understand that the club has been put into administration by Marc Green of SSG, whose involvement with the club occurred after I left the club" (TELEGRAPH & ARGUS, 2/1).

Private equity firm KKR agreed to invest €61.2M ($82.6M) in Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin and will take a 9.7% stake in the club as part of the deal, according to Alex Duff of BLOOMBERG. The Bundesliga team said on its website that the investment "will allow it to reduce its debt, cut costs and improve long-term planning." Hertha Managing Dir Michael Preetz said that the deal "provides a 'quantum leap' for the team’s finances." It was reported that Hertha "will use the funds from New York-based KKR to repay the bulk" of its €37M ($50M) of loans and buy back marketing, TV and catering rights. KKR Europe Head Johannes Huth said, "We look forward to the opportunity of supporting Hertha BSC as a long-term partner and believe in the significant potential of strengthening the club’s position both at home and abroad" (BLOOMBERG, 1/31). The BERLINER ZEITUNG wrote KKR "reportedly has the opportunity to increase its stake to 33%." The German Football League (DFL) "limits the stake a company can hold in a professional football club to less than 50%." KKR "will reportedly get a seat on Hertha's board." However, KKR "will not have any influence on economic and athletic decisions." Preetz: "We won't get crazy. We will stay the same club. We will stay to our philosophy and continue to count on our youth academy" (BZ, 1/31).

League Championship Leeds United "capped an extraordinary day, even by their standards," when they announced that Manager Brian McDermott would remain at Elland Road, although he and the rest of football "were under the impression he had been sacked on Friday," according to Peter Ferguson of the SUNDAY TIMES. The "remarkable U-turn" was made minutes after the team's 5-1 victory over local rivals Huddersfield Town, its first win since December. Leeds captain Ross McCormack, who had given voice to the players' disappointment over McDermott's exit, "scored a hat-trick." The club statement said, "The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first team manager. He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested and we look forward to him continuing in his role with us in taking Leeds United forwards." Assistant Manager Nigel Gibbs, who took charge of the team in McDermott's absence, said, "It was his team, his performance, his victory. It [the statement] is good news, we all want him to stay. The team played for Brian, absolutely" (SUNDAY TIMES, 2/2). In London, Ferguson reported in a separate piece Leeds is still owned by GFH Capital until Italian Massimo Cellino's "buy-out is completed." McDermott was reportedly "fired on transfer deadline day for refusing to allow Gianluca Festa, a lieutenant of Cellino, to sit on the bench for a 1-1 draw with Ipswich." Shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance "withdrew its backing," as did Yorkshire theme park Flamingo Land, which sponsors the academy, while some of the fans Cellino describes as “very, very special” gathered at the ground on Friday night to remonstrate against his plans (TELEGRAPH, 2/1).

SET TO SELL: REUTERS' Sam Holden reported Leeds is "set to sell a majority stake in the club to the family that run Serie A side Cagliari." GFH Capital said in a statement on Saturday that "it had agreed to sell" a 75% stake to Eleonora Sport Ltd., which is owned by the Cellino family. The Cellinos bought Cagliari in '92 and plan to invest "substantially" in Leeds once the deal is approved by the Football League (REUTERS, 2/1).

Spanish Spanish third division side Racing Santander has been "banned from next year's Copa del Rey after refusing to play" in Thursday's Copa del Rey match against Real Sociedad, according to FOOTBALL ESPANA. Racing "has been removed from next year's tournament" and fined €3,000 ($4,000). No players "have been punished individually" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 1/31). The EFE reported former footballer Tuto Sañudo was appointed Racing's new president on Friday after "shareholders approved the resignation of the previous Santander Administrative Council and former President Ángel Lavín." Sañudo will be accompanied by actor Félix Álvarez "Felisuco," who will become the club's VP. Financial and labor adviser Raúl Serrano will become the new secretary, while former players Paco Liaño and Pedro Alba, economist David Bárcena and lawyers Marcos Rivas Novoa and Juan Gutiérrez were named club spokespersons. The "naming of those fulfilling these positions has been approved by Racing fans, who were invited to the decisive meeting by the club's majority shareholders" (EFE, 1/31).

Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg has launched its official ticket exchange website. The exchange allows season-ticket holders who are unable to attend individual home games to return their tickets. The club reimburses the season-ticket holder with one-seventh of the season-ticket price. On the ticket exchange, the available seat will be resold at regular single-game admission prices. The ticket exchange provides sellers and buyers with a fair, legal and secure form to resell season tickets for individual home games at the Volkswagen Arena. All other forms of ticket resales are prohibited and violate the general ticketing business terms of the club (VfL Wolfsburg).