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Volume 6 No. 214


NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will not be involved in Gene Haas’ F1 project. The co-owners of NASCAR Sprint Cup team Stewart-Haas Racing will not field a co-owned F1 team should the FIA grant Haas an F1 license for ’15. “Tony is specific to the NASCAR program,” said True Speed Communication Founder Mike Arning. “So whatever Gene may end up doing in F1 will be separate from Stewart-Haas Racing. There will be a different name and a different set of personnel to lead the F1 project.” The chances of Haas being granted the sought-after license received a major boost last weekend when F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that two teams, including Haas’ U.S. entry, have been accepted to join the series next year. Ecclestone’s comments suggest that Haas’ F1 project is on the right track, but it is tough to move forward without an official word from the FIA. Arning: “Gene Haas and his F1 ambitions are quite frankly still in a holding pattern. Bernie obviously seemed to endorse the prospect of Gene’s F1 plans, but the license comes from the FIA.”

A COSTLY ENDEAVOR: The last time the FIA admitted new teams was in ’10. Back then, a proposed U.S. team called USF1 was initially accepted but later removed as it was in no position to race. Starting and operating an F1 team needs a lot of planning and even more funding -- which is hard to come by without an official license. “I think there’s plenty of planning going on, so they are not flatfooted. But really until that license is granted, no financial commitments or any real commitments have been put forth,” Arning said. He added that if and when the FIA gives the green light, Haas will be ready to go. The FIA, which was expected to announce its decision on what teams will join F1 on Feb. 28, has delayed that decision indefinitely without giving a reason. Arning said that Haas is expecting word from the governing body at any time, but at the same time it is the FIA’s timeline and process.

Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) side Bayern Munich and the NBA Oklahoma City Thunder "have agreed to a cooperation," according to Julian Galinski of ABENDZEITUNG MÜNCHEN. Bayern Munich head coach Svetislav Pesic said, "A delegation of the team is currently visiting us in Munich. We will cooperate with Oklahoma. They were surprised what we have achieved in a short period." The five-member delegation "is headed by Thunder GM Sam Presti." Bayern Munich Sports Dir Marko Pesic said, "I've known him for a while. It's an honor for us to have him here." The delegation "will talk to the top management of Bayern's football and basketball departments." In addition, they "will attend a practice session of the basketball team on Tuesday, the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal return leg against ManU on Wednesday and get to know the city and its culture." Marko Pesic said that "at the moment it is all about getting to know each other." He added, "We want to continue our development and learn from the best. Therefore we've scheduled this first exchange of thoughts and ideas here in Munich. Oklahoma is in a relatively similar position as us. They are a relatively young team." Marko Pesic "is ruling out an athletic cooperation such as the exchange of players at the moment." He said, "We haven't talked at all about athletic issues, only about business" (ABENDZEITUNG MÜNCHEN, 4/8).

The FA said in a statement on Wednesday that it rejected EPL club Hull City’s "controversial bid" to change its name to Hull Tigers, according to Stephen Wood of REUTERS. The FA said on its website, "The FA Council, which is made up of representatives from across football, fully considered the recommendation and the subsequent responses received from Hull City in reaching its decision." The governing body said that "the decision had been carried" with 63.5% support of its members. Egyptian-born businessman Assem Allam bought Hull in Dec. '10 and announced plans late last year "to change the club’s name in a bid to raise its profile overseas." A statement on Hull’s official website on Wednesday said that "the club would not be making any comment on the FA’s decision" (REUTERS, 4/9). The BBC reported Allam, 74, has threatened to sell if he is not allowed to change the 110-year-old name and said that "he will appeal against the decision." Allam: "If it had been the other way round, if the FA had approved it but the fans had said no, I would have severed my ties with the club immediately. But the results mean I owe it to the silent majority to appeal and to fight on." However, "there is no appeal process with the FA and the Council decision is final." Hull "can resubmit next season" if it wants to (BBC, 4/9). In London, Rory Smith wrote Allam "is convinced that becoming Hull Tigers could earn the club as much as £10 million a season in improved sponsorship revenue (LONDON TIMES, 4/10).  In London, Ben Rumsby wrote opponents of a move the Allams claim is vital to boost City’s brand on a global stage were “absolutely delighted” with the verdict on Wednesday. City Till We Die campaign group spokesperson Mark Gretton "reiterated his call for the Allams to drop the matter, although he admitted he would not be surprised if they fought on." He also "hailed Wednesday's verdict as crucial in checking the power of owners to ride roughshod over the traditions of English football clubs." Gretton: "There’s a real feeling of realism from a lot of fans that, 'There but for the grace of good go we'" (TELEGRAPH, 4/9).

McLaren consulted its lawyers on Wednesday after F1 champions Red Bull "announced the appointment of an aerodynamics expert" whom its rivals said was contracted to them, according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. Red Bull said that Dan Fallows "has been appointed head of aerodynamics," replacing McLaren-bound Peter Prodromou, who is now on "gardening leave." The statement drew a swift response from McLaren, which announced at its car launch in January that "Fallows had joined along with Prodromou." A McLaren spokesperson said, "Dan Fallows has a legally binding contract with McLaren, and the matter is now in the hands of our lawyers." Red Bull said that Fallows "had left them last year after working as aerodynamics team leader but had returned and was starting his new job with immediate effect" (REUTERS, 4/9).

Former La Liga side Valencia President Juan Batista Soler has been "arrested for plotting to kidnap" his successor, Vicente Soriano, according to Kyle Bonn of PRO SOCCER TALK. Soler resigned as club president in '08 for "health reasons" and was arrested in Valencia on Wednesday after a "two-week investigation involving the possibility that Soler hired an Eastern European specialist" for €50,000-€100,000 ($69,000-$138,000) to "abduct Soriano." After leaving the club, Soler sold "his share of the club to Soriano" for €85.5M, which gave Soriano a majority stake. Soriano only "intended on purchasing the club as a middle man in order to sell to Uruguayan company Investment Dalport." That deal, however, fell through when it was discovered that "the money Investment Dalport intended to purchase the club with never actually existed and the notes were false." Soriano was then "stuck with the club, and naturally had trouble making payments to Soler." A court ordered Soriano to "make his payments plus interest for being late." Formerly a majority share, "Soriano's cut today only represents a 5% ownership, and his shares have been seized." The prosecution has "not yet decided to ask for jail time and Soler has been released for the time being, but he is not allowed to leave the country and is barred from entering within 15 meters of Soriano." He will "appear in court on a 'regular basis' as the investigation continues and a trial commences" (PRO SOCCER TALK, 4/9). In Madrid, Conrado Valle reported Soriano's debt to Soler "was the origin of the attempted kidnapping." Police had "previously warned Soriano not to leave his house after recording a phone conversation between Soler and a hitman about a possible kidnapping of Soriano." Soler's professional office is "located only 20 meters from Soriano's residence." A second person "whose identity was not revealed has also been charged, but both he and Soler took advantage of their rights to decline to testify" (AS, 4/9).