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Volume 6 No. 212


Italian businessman Massimo Cellino "will have to wait for the outcome of his appeal against the Football League's decision to block his takeover" of League Championship side Leeds United, according to James Riach of the London GUARDIAN. Cellino's hearing took place in London on Monday "with the future of the club hanging in the balance." An independent QC "heard both sides of the argument and requires more time to consider the case." Cellino "was disqualified as a potential owner by the League last week" after being found guilty in an Italian court for failing to pay import tax on a yacht. Lawyers for Cellino "challenged the League's ruling." Representatives from the law firm Mishcon de Reya "were expected to argue that Cellino is innocent under Italian law until an appeal against the import tax ruling is finalised" (GUARDIAN, 3/31). In London, Luke Edwards reported Leeds is "teetering on the brink of administration" if Cellino’s takeover is blocked as he had been bankrolling the club since the start of the year. The Football League, though, "believe he fails their fit and proper persons test" as he has been found guilty of a “dishonesty” offense. Gulf Financial House Capital "have denied they will put the club into administration if the takeover collapses, although it is difficult to see how they can avoid it given they have relied so heavily on Cellino’s money for the last three months" (TELEGRAPH, 3/31). SKY SPORTS' Bryan Swanson reported Leeds players "are still waiting to be paid the remaining half of March's wages." Leeds' players had hoped to be paid "on the same day as their Championship game against Charlton at Elland Road." Leeds' players "have received 50 per cent of last month's wages after an agreement was reached last week" (SKY SPORTS, 4/1).

: The INT'L BUSINESS TIMES' Nick Howson reported Cellino "launched a scathing attack" on GFH CEO David Haigh and Manager Brian McDermott "during an interview with a fans radio station." Cellino "was being unknowingly recorded" when he labeled Haigh, deputy CEO of current Leeds owners GFH Capital, as "dangerous" and criticized McDermott's regime "after the club suffered a 17th league defeat of the season to Doncaster Rovers." Though the Italian is confident of clinching an agreement with the Football League, "he warns a ruling against him will plunge the club into liquidation" and leave Leeds in the hands of Haigh while revealing that former Owner Ken Bates "remains behind the current ownership." Speaking unknowingly to fans radio station White Leeds Radio, Cellino said, "I think that unfortunately I am going to win. I am buying a lot of work, a lot of debt and never mind I can engage myself. It is a great club the only thing that works is the fans. The people who are running the club they don't understand, the treasure are the fans." He added, "David is a son of a bitch, he is dangerous, a f**king devil" (IB TIMES, 3/31).

Administrator for Scottish Premiership side Heart of Midlothian Bryan Jackson "is drawing up emergency plans" to keep Hearts playing for the rest of this season "even if he is forced to call in the liquidators this month," according to Keith Jackson of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Jackson is now reluctantly preparing for a “worst-case scenario” after "being left dismayed and perplexed" by the latest move from Lithuania to stall on a deal to rescue the club through a CVA. Hearts "had expected to take a huge stride towards safety" on Friday when creditors Ukio Bankas and UBIG were scheduled to rubber stamp the transfer of 80% of the club’s shares to Edinburgh millionaire Ann Budge. Not only did that plan fall through -- with the meeting put back to Monday -- but Jackson "was then blanked by the Lithuanians for 48 hours despite attempts to seek an explanation for this latest dramatic twist." Now "fears are escalating that the entire deal to haul Hearts back from the brink is about to collapse," leaving Jackson with no option but "to wind the club up when it runs out of cash in little more than four weeks" (DAILY RECORD, 4/1).

Australian Rugby Union club Melbourne Rebels CEO Rob Clarke admits the franchise faces a A$3M ($2.8M) loss this year, but insists that "it is a worst-case scenario," according to Bret Harris of THE AUSTRALIAN. The Rebels "have been sup¬≠ported financially by the cash-strapped ARU since the team’s original private owners withdrew their investment in March last year" after losing an average of A$3M a year for three years. While conceding that "it was possible" the Rebels could lose another A$3M, Clarke "was optimistic the loss would be considerably less." Clarke: “Given we are in a calendar-year financial year there are things happening now that could influence that. It is absolutely worst-case. I’m certainly not anticipating a $3 million loss for the Rebels. There are a few levers within our control and we are pulling those levers as we go through the season." Clarke predicted that the Rebels "would be financially independent of the ARU by 2016." Clarke: “Only five of the AFL clubs made a profit in 2013 if you take out the poker-machine revenue. Only five made a profit out of their football departments. We are not alone. We are not Robinson Crusoe in the struggle to run a profitable organization, but I think we are focusing on the right areas to turn it into that” (THE AUSTRALIAN, 4/2).

National Rugby League club Newcastle Knights founding father Leigh Maughan said that "it is time for [Nathan] Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group to hand the club back," according to Robert Dillon of THE AGE. After HSG missed Monday’s deadline to have in place a A$10.52M ($9.7M) bank guarantee, Tinkler "has defaulted on the terms and conditions of his 2011 takeover," entitling the Knights Members Club to buy the NRL outfit back for A$1. Maughan, the former NBN sports commentator who along with solicitor Michael Hill and real-estate agent Gerry Edser successfully lobbied to have Newcastle included in the 1988 NSW Rugby League competition, said that "HSG’s position was now untenable." Maughan said on Monday, "I did hang my hat on Nathan Tinkler. I had a couple of cups of coffee with him and found him to be a decent country boy, and quite frankly he saved the Knights from bankruptcy. ... But what’s gone on since, the money’s not the only thing that’s been lacking. What is also lacking is the management skills ... a lot of people like me are now wondering what the hell is going on in the joint.’’ Asked if he felt HSG could remain involved in some capacity, Maughan replied, ‘‘No ... you can’t go belly-up and expect to stay on board" (THE AGE, 4/1). In Sydney, Daniel Lane wrote the Newcastle Knights have condemned what they labeled a "sensationalised" TV report on the condition of injured player Alex McKinnon, 22, who suffered spinal damage in last week's match against Melbourne. On Monday night, Channel Nine reported that McKinnon was told by doctors he would not walk again "but a statement issued by the Knights insisted there had been no new developments in regards to his condition." The Knights said, "While Alex’s condition continues to improve, his body is in the first phase of recovery. As previously shared, he has movement in his right arm and the uncertainty remains in the extent of further recovery. The doctors explained any regeneration and recovery could [take] up to two years" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 4/1).

La Liga Valencia on Tuesday received "seven proposals to acquire the club," according to Conrado Valle of AS. The committee managing the sale of the club, which includes Valencia, majority shareholder VCF Foundation, lender Bankia and the Valencian City Council, "is studying what has been presented and confirmed that it received seven offers that meet the committee's minimum requirements." These offers "will pass to a new phase, an exhaustive study that will last three weeks." Sources indicated that "among the offers are proposals from Singapore businessman Peter Lim and Chinese multinational company Wanda Corporation." Four other offers came from U.S. investment firms GEM and Cerberus, as well as one Russian and one Arab investment firm. The seventh offer "is yet to be revealed" (AS, 4/1).