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Volume 10 No. 25


Supporter groups of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham "have come together to criticise the Gunners for reducing the ticket allocation for away fans for FA Cup ties at the Emirates," according to Julian Bennetts of the London EVENING STANDARD. The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, Black Scarf Movement, Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust and Spirit of Shankly "are furious over the ticketing for Arsenal’s third-round tie with Tottenham and next week’s fifth-round match with Liverpool." Competition rules state away fans should be given 15% of the stadium, or 9,050 seats. However, Arsenal gave Spurs and Liverpool only 5,186 tickets each while fourth-round opponents Coventry were offered 8,686 (EVENING STANDARD, 2/5). In Liverpool, Neil Jones reported Liverpool "requested the full allocation, but were rejected by Arsenal following the advice of the London club's Safety Advisory Group." The Group, made up of representatives from the club, local authority, police and transport, said that the decision to reduce Liverpool's allocation "is down to fears over safety issues, chiefly supporters standing in the upper tiers of the stadium." Liverpool supporters' union Spirit of Shankly said it was “disappointed” with Arsenal's decision. A statement on the SOS website said it was “absurd” that a football club could “designate an area as being available to away supporters yet then raise fears over potential safety issues” (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 2/5).

Qatar National Bank Acting Head of Global Structured Finance Yusuf Saeed said that Qatar plans to spend as much as $205B on infrastructure between '13 and '18 "as the country invests its vast hydrocarbon wealth in a development boom," according to REUTERS. The Gulf Arab state is spending billions of dollars in areas such as transport, electricity and water generation and housing, "in an effort to improve its economy and build towards its hosting" of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The government "has been ramping up its own spending as part of this push." The budget for fiscal '13-14 is up 17.9% to QR210.6B ($57.8B), "thanks to wealth accrued as the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas." Saeed said that requests for banks to help finance the first of these -- the $6.4B Al Karaana scheme, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell -- "are due to be sent out by the end of the first quarter." Saeed said that "another significant contributor to the total figure is the Qatar Rail project," which is expected to cost around $45B to build. The contract "for rolling stock alone should be worth" between $5B-$10B (REUTERS, 2/5).

La Liga side Elche's Martinez Valero stadium "has made significant improvements during the last six months," according to M.H. Marcos of AS. The "stadium's remodeling project will be completed on Friday." Martinez Valero "will finally achieve its activity license 37 years after it was inaugurated without a construction permit." The investment for the stadium renovation cost approximately €4.5M ($6M) and the "results are visible to fans." One "notable aspect of the renovations is the improvements made to the stadium seats." The stadium's facade has "also been covered by an exterior metal sheet that has created a more modern look" (AS, 2/5).

Hong Kong Cricket Association Dir of Cricket Charlie Burke said that the cricket stadium in Guangzhou built for the 2010 Asian Games is a "win-win" interim measure for hosting Hong King's crowded int'l calendar "until the city gets a world-standard ground," according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. Burke said, "It will be the perfect solution until we wait for the Hong Kong government to provide us with a top-class facility. It will kill two birds with one stone for the ICC -- having use of a ready-made ground as well as raising the profile of international cricket in China." Hong Kong's men's elevation to one-day int'l (ODI) status "means an increase in international fixtures against other leading associate members such as Ireland and Scotland" (SCMP, 2/5).

Edinburgh, Scotland's Murrayfield stadium "is to get a new state-of-the-art pitch" and Scottish Premiership side Celtic "could help pay the bill," according to Roddy Duncan of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Root-eating bugs known as nematodes "have turned the turf into a mudbath." Now, Scottish rugby chiefs "have admitted defeat and the sorry surface will be scrapped and replaced by a combination of grass and artificial fibre." The Scottish Rugby Union "refused to reveal the cost" but it is believed to be £1.25M ($2M) -- the "biggest investment at the home of the Scottish game since the stadium was rebuilt 20 years ago." And Celtic "could help to pay the bill by getting first use of the new pitch" -- the type already being used by Arsenal, Liverpool, ManU and Man City, plus the San Siro and Wembley (DAILY RECORD, 2/5).