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Volume 10 No. 23


A-League side Melbourne Victory has "instigated talks with the possibility of selling a stake" to EPL Liverpool, according to Val Migliaccio of THE ADVERTISER. Victory Chair Anthony Di Pietro -- one of the club's principal shareholders -- was "reportedly in England last weekend" talking to Liverpool officials. Fenway Sports Group-owned Liverpool and Victory's relationship was "strengthened last year when the clubs faced off in a friendly in Melbourne in July." The dialogue between the clubs "has been frequent ever since." A Victory official was contacted on Wednesday night "but was yet to comment." The pending Victory-Liverpool deal "comes on the back of Manchester City buying" an 80% share of Melbourne Heart. Heart was sold for about A$12M ($10.7M) with Victory expected to fetch more than A$20M for the franchise "which is regarded as the biggest football club in Australia" (THE ADVERTISER, 2/5). FOOTBALL's Kenneth Quillinan reported "the future of Australian football is continuing to look more and more promising." With the "prospect of both Manchester City and Liverpool providing these Melbourne rivals with a wealth of experience and expertise," it may "not be long before it can challenge Aussie Rules and Rugby League in the popularity stakes amongst the Australian locals" (FOOTBALL, 2/5). The LIVERPOOL ECHO reported Liverpool FC "have rubbished reports linking them with plans to buy a stake in the Melbourne Victory football club in Australia." The Reds "have dismissed any link up" (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 2/5).

A number of Scottish League 1 Rangers fans "have taken the first steps towards launching a bid to buy the club on behalf of the Ibrox support," according to the SCOTSMAN. Supporters Direct Scotland "has been called in to offer advice on setting up a scheme" similar to the one being used by fans of Scottish Premiership side Heart of Midlothian "to rescue the stricken Tynecastle club from administration." The Hearts scheme "collects monthly contributions from supporters and it is thought a similar scheme could be used by the Light Blues faithful to buy shares in the club on the stock market" (SCOTSMAN, 2/5). SKY SPORTS reported "a number of Rangers fans will meet later this month." Head of SDS Paul Goodwin claimed last week that a scheme involving around 25,000 supporters handing over around £20 ($33) a month "could eventually hand the Rangers support control." If the fan bid was successful in gaining that level of support, it would build up a sum of around £4.8M ($7.8M) within 12 months, allowing them to potentially buy a 25% stake in the club (SKY SPORTS, 2/5). The PA reported the Rangers move "has been prompted by the deep unhappiness amongst the Ibrox support about the way the club has been run since Charles Green took control 18 months ago." The club announced a £14.4M loss for the 13-month period up to June with reports suggesting the club is still losing £1M ($1.6M) a month (PA, 2/5).

La Liga side Atletico Madrid's board has said that "it will study another Spanish supreme court ruling saying its control of the club has been fraudulently achieved," while assuring fans that the "stability" provided by the current regime will continue, according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN. Spain’s highest court ruled definitively on Tuesday that a '03 share offering overseen by current club President Enrique Cerezo, current CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin and former President Jesus Gil y Gil "should not have been allowed to take place, as the club was then the subject of a judicial intervention." The court verdict said that "Cerezo and the Gil family did not legally have the authority to push through the share offering which consolidated their control of the club at that time." The ruling is a victory for fan groups including "Senales de Humo," which translates as "smoke signals," which for years have been fighting to win back control of their club. But "it still remains to be seen whether the current Colchoneros directors can overcome this legal setback, as has happened previously" (ESPN, 2/5).

David Beckham "dangled the prospect of superstars joining" his new Miami Major League Soccer team, according to Richard Luscombe of the London GUARDIAN. Backham said, "Who wouldn't want to play in Miami, live in Miami? I’m getting messages saying, ‘When’s it happening? When can we get there?’ I know this city is ready for football.” Beckham declined to name names, saying it would be "disrespectful." As MLS Commissioner Don Garber welcomed the former England captain's formal acceptance of the franchise, Beckham "presented his vision for the future of professional soccer in Miami." Beckham said it is “a deeply personal project, I want to make it my own team.” He promised "some of the world’s greatest players, a top-class coach, a Kids Academy to develop the stars of tomorrow, and a successful and community-focused club" in the heart of downtown Miami (GUARDIAN, 2/5)

A key member of a consortium hoping to take control of League Championship side Leeds United, Andrew Flowers "has withdrawn his bid to purchase the club," according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. Flowers "criticised the current owners Gulf Finance House (GFH) for apparently favouring the Italian Massimo Cellino, who moves one step closer to securing a takeover deal for the Championship side." Flowers, the managing director of Leeds' shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance and a member of the Sport Capital consortium that saw its takeover bid rejected last month, "was locked in talks with GFH in London on Wednesday but has bowed out of the race to buy United." The decision "paves the way for Cellino to take control of Leeds," the Cagliari owner having already agreed to a deal in principle for a 75% stake in the club for a reported £25M ($41M) (GUARDIAN, 2/5). The BBC reported members of the Sport Capital consortium and those involved in the Together Leeds consortium "were planning to launch a joint bid to take over at Elland Road." However, it appears that the planned bid "has not come to fruition." Flowers said in a statement, "I entered discussions in good faith to buy this club for the simple reason that I am a lifelong supporter and sincerely believed that I could make a real contribution towards the goal of promotion to the Premier League and at the same time provide the stability and sound financial governance the club desperately needs. However, the emergence of Mr. Cellino's bid, and the nature of the transaction, seems to have crystallised the attitudes of both GFH and the Leeds United board, enabling them to dispose of the club with no consideration for its ultimate security and wellbeing" (BBC, 2/5).

ON LOAN: In London, Andrew Bounds reported Leeds took a £1.5M ($2.5M) loan from Cellino as he finalized "a prospective takeover of the championship club last week. The revelation that GFH Capital accepted the loan "will add to questions over the club’s financial state." Leeds Managing Dir David Haigh has loaned about £2M personally since its '12 takeover. A person with knowledge of the situation said that Cellino "is still the favoured bidder, with the deal expected to complete this month" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/5).

Argentine first division side River Plate execs are "taking advantage of Argentine fans' interest in the club" by organizing friendlies throughout the country that are creating "an interesting source of revenues for an economically devastated club," according to Yarroch & Benozzi of CLARIN. It is a tendency "that River Plate wants to strengthen now and in the future to take advantage of the economic potential of fans from distant provinces." The idea of River execs is to play one of these friendlies per month. River treasurer Andrés Ballotta said, "These types of friendlies represent a very important source of revenue for the club and we want to take advantage." River Plate directors estimate that these games could earn the club 15M-20M Argentine pesos ($1.9M-$2.5M) per year (CLARIN, 2/5).