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Volume 10 No. 22


ManU sacked Manager David Moyes on Tuesday, "bringing a rapid end to a shortlived and unhappy reign," according to Blitz & Robinson of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The club announced on its Twitter feed on Tuesday that Moyes had left the club, adding it “would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity he brought to the role.” The move "follows mounting criticism of the team’s poor recent performances," including last weekend's 2-0 loss to Moyes' former club, Everton. Former player and member of the coaching staff Ryan Giggs "has been put in charge of the team until the end of the season." Moyes’ representatives are in Manchester "negotiating severance terms" (FT, 4/22). In London, Blitz also reported Moyes’ sacking illustrates how "when it comes to matters of pure football issues, the Glazer family has lost its way with its prized asset." His departure "is perhaps the worst moment in the nine-year tenure of the family" whose stewardship has long been resented by many fans since the club’s '05 takeover. In the aftermath of several of ManU’s many defeats this season, members of the club’s hierarchy "were at pains to offer Moyes their backing and stress the family’s long-term outlook, saying the manager needed time." Missing out on Champions League qualification will probably cost ManU £10M-£12M ($17M-$20M) in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. However, that is "comfortably manageable" for a club that is projecting EBITDA for the year to June of £128M-£133M ($215M-$223M) and revenues of £420M-£430M ($706M-$723M). One insider called it a "a bump in the road." According to Tim Crow of Synergy, a sports sponsorship consultant, ManU’s strong global fan base "should enable it to swallow a bad season." The biggest short-term impact of the club’s poor form "could come from being unable to attract sponsors coming new into football." Crow: “They will inevitably look first at the hot team, which will certainly benefit [Premier League leaders] Liverpool” (FT, 4/22).

CLUB'S HANDLING CRITICIZED: In London, Neil Gardner reported ManU supporters accused the club of a "lack of class and dignity." Manchester United Supporters' Trust Vice-Chair Sean Bones said, "It's a PR shambles. Manchester United's history shows they deal with things with class and dignity but that has not been the case here. The story leaked before David Moyes has been spoken to, and that's not the Manchester United way. There was no dignity or class in the way they went about it." ManU spoke to Holland coach Louis van Gaal about replacing Moyes in the long term. Real Madrid and former Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti and former ManU defender and Paris St. Germain coach Laurent Blanc "may be other contenders." Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp "ruled himself out of the running" (LONDON TIMES, 4/22). In London, Ian Herbert reported Giggs will work alongside former teammate Nicky Butt, who managed ManU's Europa Youth League side before a group stage elimination last autumn. Under the terms of his six-year contract, failure to qualify for the '14-15 Champions League entitles Moyes "to take away on only one year's pay from the five years oustanding on his six-year contract" (INDEPENDENT, 4/22). The PA reported Gary Neville "is disappointed" with ManU's handling of the Moyes sacking. Neville: "It's the modern world, it's how things seem to be dealt with now, but I'm a traditionalist and I think it could have been dealt with a whole lot better. I believe in managers being given time, I think they should be allowed to complete their work. The idea of giving people three- and four- and six-year contracts and then getting rid of them after 10 months is something that's foreign to me." He added, "The players have to take massive responsibility. I never once during my 17/18-year career at United turned around after a game and thought: 'You lost us that game, boss.' It's always the players" (PA, 4/22).

RUMORS SWIRL: In London, Chris Wheeler reported "tales emerged" of senior ManU players "beating a path to the door of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Cheshire home to urge their old manager to push for change." The "message was clear: they no longer stood by Moyes and neither should United if the empire Ferguson built was not going to continue crumbling, brick by brick" (DAILY MAIL, 4/22).

TWITTER ANNOUNCEMENT: In London, Kevin Garside wrote "it is the way of things in the Twitter age" that by the time ManU made official the departure of Moyes Tuesday morning, the "breaking news" was almost a day old on the social media site. The "reach and pace of dissemination of information on Twitter has transformed the sacking process." It allowed ManU to "get the story out there without having to answer for it immediately." The removal of a manager at Old Trafford "is about as big a sporting news item as can be." By allowing the "facts" of the matter to be established via Twitter, "the club effectively bought the time required to shuffle Moyes out the door beneath a blanket without saying a word." The story is no longer about the failure of the Moyes appointment "but about who might replace him" (INDEPENDENT, 4/22).

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: In London, Blitz reported ManU Vice-Chair Ed Woodward "must step up his knowledge of the dark arts of football negotiation as the club embarks on its search for a new manager." Added to his in-tray, already laden with potential transfer deals in and out of Old Trafford, "is the task of persuading a top-drawer European coach to succeed the unfortunate" Moyes. After years in the background, Woodward "is now front and centre" of the ManU operation -- both commercial and sporting -- and is "often pictured" in the exec seats of ManU’s home and away games. Woodward’s task "would appear straightforward: to find a manager who can restore success on the pitch." But it is "an appointment fraught with problems" (FT, 4/22). In London, Simon Kuper reported Moyes' sacking "is above all a story of image." No other British company "receives more press coverage than United." Being its manager is therefore "a public relations job." Moyes’s image "hampered him throughout his brief reign." Arriving from smaller Everton without a big name, "he lacked the stature to dismantle United’s revered team." Then, when his aging players failed to deliver, "his own PR failed him" (FT, 4/22).

TAKING STOCK: In Manchester, Adam Jupp reported "all eyes were on Wall Street" Tuesday to see how Moyes' sacking would impact on ManU's share price. After an hour of trading ManU shares rose to $17.97 -- up 1.41% on Monday's closing price. By 4pm, it topped the $18 mark. Some analysts "have said that turmoil actually retains investor and sponsor interest and can have a positive impact on share price." If anything, ManU’s share price "is more likely to drop as a result of failure to qualify for the Champions League than because it has sacked its manager" (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 4/22).

National Rugby League side Wests Tigers "are set to demand financial compensation" to allow Benji Marshall to return to the NRL, according to Walter, Proszenko & Ward of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Officials are "advising his manager they intended to enforce a clause in his release agreement prohibiting him from playing for a rival club" before '16. Tigers CEO Grant Mayer said that the joint venture "was not in a position to take Marshall back." Chair Mike Bailey "welcomed the prospect of the star playmaker playing against them because of the interest it would generate" The club would seek "Ben Barba-type" compensation before he could sign elsewhere. A number of NRL and Super League clubs "are believed to have already expressed interest in Marshall." However, the Tigers "may be an obstacle to him returning to the NRL." They would expect any club that wanted to sign him "to come to them for permission to do so." A Wests official said, "We don't want to make it difficult for Benji but we took him at his word and obviously six months on things have changed. It is a Ben Barba-type situation." Brisbane paid Canterbury A$300,000 ($280,000) to release Barba from his contract this season but it is "unlikely the Tigers could expect that sort of money as Marshall had already left and they say they can not accommodate him if he wanted to join them" (SMH, 4/22).

The committee managing the sale of La Liga side Valencia, which includes the club, majority shareholder VCF Foundation, lender Bankia and the Valencia City Council, will "evaluate offers for Valencia until May 3 with the objective of making the best decision on the sale of the club, although some things are already clear to the members of the committee," according to Julián Montoro of SUPERDEPORTE. On "one hand, a delay was requested due to doubts around the credentials and economic solvency of more than one of the six bidders, something of which the committee wants to assure itself before ruling out any of the proposals." There are "at least two offers that meet all the requisites and it can be said that these are currently the principal favorites." Those favorites are U.S.-based investment firm Cerberus Capital Management and Chinese multinational Wanda Group. This is "not to say that the others are ruled out." Cerberus Capital is "Bankia's favored proposal." Bankia, "though, is not underestimating the economic potential" of the offer from Wanda Group. Both "Bankia and the Valencia City Council see in the Wanda Group's offer many possibilities for investments beyond the football club." Valencia fans "also have shown more confidence in the Chinese offer" (SUPERDEPORTE, 4/22).

ADIDAS TRANSITION: SUPERDEPORTE reported Valencia has lowered the cost of official club merchandise made by Spanish brand Joma, which will be replaced by adidas next season as the club's kit sponsor. There "are websites now selling official Valencia shirts for a third of their original value" (SUPERDEPORTE, 4/21).