Former ManU teammates Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs "have entered into talks" to buy semi-pro Northern Premier League side Salford City FC, according to Mike Keegan of the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. The duo "are in discussions" with Salford officials "with a view to a takeover that could see the pair set up an academy at the Moor Lane club." Sources close to Neville and Giggs, who remains at the Red Devils as a player-coach, said that the move "was at a 'early stage.'" A Salford board meeting took place on Saturday night at which "an overwhelming majority voted in favour of welcoming a potential bid." Nobody from the club "wanted to comment on the situation," but it is thought that "many are excited by the prospect" of Neville, an England coach and respected Sky Sports pundit, "taking the reins along with local lad Giggs" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 2/6). In London, Ian Ladyman reported Neville and Giggs "are hopeful of developing the club" at first team and reserve level, but are "particularly keen to find a way to stop local talent disappearing from the area." Neville "is known to have deep-rooted concerns about the lack of players finding their way from non-league football through to the top four tiers of English professional football." Sources close to the two players "have stressed that they have absolutely no intention of developing a club as opposition to United, as has happened with nearby FC United" (DAILY MAIL, 2/6).
A group of Barcelona members is demanding that the club cancel the referendum scheduled for April, when members will vote on a proposed renovation of Camp Nou, according to the EFE. The proposed renovation project's budget will cost €600M ($816.2M). The group -- "Blaugranes a taula" -- making the demand "includes former club execs Jordi Torrent Sala, Albert Perrin Calvet and Jaume Ferrer Graupera." The "motivation behind the claim is that the most important decision for the next 50 years should 'not be determined with this degree of uncertainty and on such short notice.'" Blaugranes a taula is "only focused on the Camp Nou referendum and is not involved in the debate regarding Josep Maria Bartomeu replacing Sandro Rosell as Barcelona president." The group is "requesting that the referendum be held during an election period and not through a referendum" (EFE, 2/6).
Serie A Cagliari Owner Massimo Cellino said that he expects to have "no problem" in being approved as the new owner of League Championship Leeds United and that his "purchase of the football club should complete next week," according to Andrew Bounds of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Cellino, who "swooped on the club after a bid from local businessmen collapsed last week," is paying about £25M ($41M) for a 75% stake from owners GFH Capital. Cellino said that "he was confident he would be approved as a suitable owner by the Football League, despite a past conviction for false accounting." Cellino blamed the "jealousy" in Italian football for the '01 false accounting case. He was "also convicted of fraud" in '96 but cleared on appeal. He said that he was "selling his Serie A club Cagliari because he was 'tired and fed up' of Italian football and he did not have the energy to run two clubs." Cellino said that Leeds would be "owned by an English company," of which he would "hold 9.5 per cent, with his family in overall control" (FT, 2/6). In London, Matt Lawton reported "in a series of text messages to Italian paper Corriere dello Sport, Cellino informed them that a sale of Cagliari was imminent." Cellino: "For 22 years I dreamed the impossible. I am a poor romantic dreamer, excuse me if I didn't succeed. I have practically sold Cagliari and the buyers' lawyers are securing the go-ahead from the authorities. They are good people but I'm worried they will baulk at our sad reality. Good night." The "sale has gone through" (DAILY MAIL, 2/6).
A-League side Melbourne Victory Chair Anthony Di Pietro "is expected to be in Liverpool" for the Reds' EPL match against Arsenal on Saturday -- but "selling Victory to the Merseyside giant is not on the agenda," according to THE AGE. Since the Melbourne Heart board's "stunning coup" in selling the club to Man City, speculation "has centred on how Victory might counter the City challenge." Victory "would like to become at least a semi-regular fixture on Liverpool's dance card" whenever it comes through the Southeast Asian region. Sources said that is what Di Pietro "is likely to explore in any talks that might take place" (THE AGE, 2/7). FOX SPORTS' Daniel Garb reported a Liverpool spokesperson said, "There is absolutely nothing in this whatsoever. I obviously can't speak for any future intentions the club might have but right now there is nothing in this at all." A formal business partnership of some sort down the track "is a possibility." Liverpool and Victory are "enjoying a strong relationship following on from their hugely successful tour down under in July that saw 95,000 fans turn out at the MCG for a friendly" (FOX SPORTS, 2/6).