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Volume 6 No. 212


Super League side Bradford Bulls lost six league points and "a takeover bid collapsed on another dramatic and damaging day in a crisis that has now been running for almost two years," according to Andy Wilson of the London GUARDIAN. It is the second time in three seasons that the Bulls have been docked the maximum of six points for breaching Super League's operational rules, and this time "the implications threaten to be a good deal more serious than they were in 2012, given the reintroduction of relegation for the bottom two in the final table." Despite last Thursday's "gutsy" win at Wakefield, Bradford are now four points adrift at the bottom, with "ongoing uncertainty over their future financial viability" (GUARDIAN, 2/25). In London, Christopher Irvine wrote the future of Bradford "was left hanging by a thread in the space of nine minutes." That "was the time it took" for the club's directors to quit. Before walking out, Bradford Chair Mark Moore "accused the RFL of ignoring the business plan of Bradford Bulls 2014, which emerged last week as the preferred bidder of David Wilson, the administrator, and described the points deduction as a 'slap in the face' for the club and supporters." Moore, one of three new directors working alongside Bradford CEO Robbie Hunter-Paul, who will represent Bradford at a meeting of clubs Wednesday, blamed “poor leadership” by the RFL for the debacle. RFL COO Ralph Rimmer said, “It is disappointing and disingenuous for Bradford to suggest that the RFL has acted in any manner other than fairly and properly throughout a crisis, which is entirely of the club’s own making” (LONDON TIMES, 2/26).

The Football League "has confirmed it is still in talks" with League Championship side Leeds over the club’s proposed £25M ($42M) takeover by Italian businessman Massimo Cellino, according to the TELEGRAPH & ARGUS. A league statement read, “The Football League remains in discussions with both the owners and proposed purchasers of Leeds United," regarding the planned change of ownership. If Cellino’s takeover is approved by the League, Leeds Chair Salah Nooruddin "will remain in his post," and Managing Dir David Haigh "will become the club’s new chief executive." Int'l Investment Bank and Nooruddin (3.3%) "will still own" the remaining 15% of shares (TELEGRAPH & ARGUS, 2/25). The YORKSHIRE POST reported the Football League said it was yet to resolve "a number of outstanding matters." The Football League said, "The Board of The Football League is next scheduled to meet on March 13 where it will receive an update on the matter from the League’s executive, unless all the remaining issues can be resolved satisfactorily in advance of this date" (YORKSHIRE POST, 2/25). In London, Rory Smith wrote once the requested information is supplied, "it is believe" the Italian buyer "would still have to go through the owners and directors test before he was allowed to take control of Leeds" (LONDON TIMES, 2/26).

Royal Bank of Scotland is seeking the legal equivalent of a subpoena for former board members of Liverpool Football Club in the ongoing legal strife surrounding the sale of the club nearly four years ago. RBS has asked a N.Y. State Court judge to request that British authorities compel the testimony and production of documents from three former board members, an investment bank and a law firm all closely involved in the sale of LFC to Fenway Sports Group. Mill Financial, a former LFC creditor, is suing RBS, alleging the bank orchestrated the sale of the club to the detriment of Mill, which had wanted to buy the team. New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten twice has turned down motions to dismiss the case. Now for the first time, RBS in papers filed before Bransten Feb. 21 denied it had controlled the Liverpool board, and asked the judge under the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters to seek British intervention. RBS is asking for testimony and documents from former LFC Chair Martin Broughton; Managing Dir Ian Ayre and former Managing Dir Christian Purslow; Barclays Investment bank, which brokered the sale; and the law firm of Slaughter & May. The motion also asks for documents only from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which provided due diligence on the value of the club. The motion says RBS has contacted all the parties, but so far has been unable to obtain any information. Herrick Feinstein sports lawyer John Goldman explained that if Bransten forwards the motion to the British and they grant it, it would legally compel the individuals to provide testimony and documents. FSG is not a defendant in the case, but Bransten has already ordered the firm to submit to Mill’s discovery requests.

Scottish League 1 Rangers "under-fire" CEO Graham Wallace on Monday insisted that "he can win the trust of the Rangers support despite a furious backlash" to the £1.5M ($2.5M) emergency funding he secured to "keep the club out of financial distress," according to Keith Jackson of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Wallace "conceded the club's traumatised fans are still viewing him and his board with suspicion as a result of three years of carnage behind the scenes." Those supporters have now been "enraged by the terms of the deals with two key investors, Sandy Easdale and hedge fund firm Laxey Partners." Fans groups joined forces on Monday to "issue a statement condemning the decision to pay Laxey" a £150,000 ($250,425) fee for their £1M ($1.67M) loan (DAILY RECORD, 2/25).