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Volume 10 No. 22


Bayern Munich "has threatened its season-ticket holders with cancellation of their season tickets," according to BILD. In a letter to all season-ticket holders, the club said, "If a season-ticket holder does not attend at least eight Bundesliga games, Bayern Munich will reserve the right to cancel the season ticket at the end of the season." The reason for this decision is the "many empty seats during games against less attractive opponents, despite the stadium being officially sold out" (BILD, 2/4).

The battle for control of League Championship side Leeds United "intensified as Enterprise Insurance, the club's shirt sponsor, moved to wind up the company, according to Andrew Bounds of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Enterprise, whose Managing Dir Andrew Flowers "is a spurned bidder, has field a winding-up petition for the club over an alleged unpaid debt." It "will be heard in the High Court in March." The Gibraltar-based insurer issued the petition on Jan. 29, a day after talks with Sport Capital, a consortium including Flowers, a life-long Leeds fan, and Leeds Managing Dir David Haigh, "collapsed." The "move appears designed to prevent a sale" to Serie A Cagliari Owner Massimo Cellino, who clinched an agreement to buy 75% of Leeds on Friday. Enterprise "has apparently scrapped its shirt sponsorship of the club." In '12, it lent £1.7M at 7% interest for repayment in '15. Mike Smith, a corporate insolvency expert from Jameson Smith, said the insurers' move was "risky," since the debt "must be proved in law or costs could be awarded against it" (FT, 2/4).

STRONG OPPOSITION: In London, Mark Ogden wrote opposition to Cellino's proposed takeover "has been underlined by a survey" conducted by the Leeds Supporters Trust, with more than 75% voting against the Italian. A LUST statement read, "Over 75 percent of members, who have responded so far, have indicated that, given the events of last week and the weekend, they do not feel that Mr. Cellino would either understand LUFC supporters or be good for the club" (TELEGRAPH, 2/4).

League Championship side Birmingham City Chair and major shareholder Carson Yeung, who is awaiting the verdict following his trial for alleged money laundering in Hong Kong, "has resigned as a director of the club" and its parent company Birmingham Int'l Holdings Ltd., according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. His resignation "was announced in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange." Yeung had remained chairman of the club and BIHL "throughout his arrest, charges and trial, in which he pleaded not guilty." The club "has suffered serious financial difficulties" since, resulting from Yeung, who had lent the club £15M, having his assets frozen, and relegation from the Premier League in '11. His resignation "now appears to be part of BIHL's efforts to raise new money with a placing of new shares" and borrowing £24M ($39M) in a bond. Yeung's brother-in-law, Shui Cheong Ma, 52, a Hong Kong businessman, "was made a director both of BIHL and the club," which also appointed another director, investment banker Panos Pavlakis (GUARDIAN, 2/4).

The future of Scottish Premiership side Heart of Midlothian "has effectively been secured after majority shareholder Ubig agreed to sell their stake to the Foundation of Hearts," according to Darren Johnstone of the SCOTSMAN. But now BDO administrator Bryan Jackson "is facing a race against time to complete the fans group’s takeover before the club runs out of money." The transfer of fallen Lithuanian investment company Ubig’s 78.97% stake for a five-figure fee "is regarded as the last major hurdle in a complex process to save the 140-year-old institution." Would-be owners the Foundation, which is backed by more than 7,600 fans making monthly donations, "had already agreed to buy secured creditor Ukio Bankas’ 29.9 per cent shareholding" for £2.5M ($4.1M). Should the closing negotiations stretch into April, Jackson "would then have to source more working capital." This could mean "selling next term’s season tickets or asking the Foundation to help out" (SCOTSMAN, 2/4).

League Championship Millwall Chair John Berylson "insists the club's long-term future is at The Den despite council redevelopment plans," according to SKY SPORTS. A statement on Millwall's website said that Berylson was "shocked and appalled" at Lewisham Council's decision to "sell off to a property developer the freehold of three areas around the stadium." Millwall said that its "own plans for the sites -- two of which are currently occupied by the club's car park and community centre -- have not even been considered" (SKY SPORTS, 2/3). LONDON24 reported the "freehold of three areas of land" is being "sold by the Council to developers Renewal Ltd." Millwall commissioned architects in '13 to "draw up plans for the development of the three areas adjoining the ground." Lewisham Council, however, "refused to consider Millwall's plans" and the Lions' claim "declined to share the commercial information the club would have required to make its own bid to buy the three parcels of land" (LONDON24, 2/3).