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Volume 6 No. 212


Billionaire English racehorse owner Marwan Koukash confirmed on Wednesday his interest in becoming involved with a National Rugby League club -- either as a 100% owner or in partnership -- "amid speculation he was circling the Newcastle Knights," according to Read & Honeysett of THE AUSTRALIAN. Former Newcastle player turned Triple M commentator Matthew Johns revealed on Sydney radio that Koukash "was keen to extend his portfolio to the NRL." Koukash: "All I have been saying is I am interested and have started talking to an NRL team. It's still in the early stages and it's not fair to give any further details." Pressed on why he was so "keen to be involved" in the NRL, Koukash revealed that "he was actually looking at more than one team." Koukash said, "I love being in Australia. ... At this point in time I am not releasing anything about the team because there is more than one team" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/17). In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported former Australian Rugby League CEO John Quayle said that "Newcastle should be wary of embracing new private owners" amid speculation Koukash wants to buy the NRL franchise. Just weeks after the club severed ties with Nathan Tinkler's Hunter Sports Group, "another self-made millionaire with a penchant for horses and football clubs is reportedly interested in taking over the Knights." Quayle, who has been engaged by the ARL Commission to help Newcastle through its transitional ownership period, "warned about the perils of private ownership when the right corporate structures are not in place." Quayle said, "Here it is again, someone who puts his hand up. Tell him to go to the league [NRL] and give them a non-refundable cheque of A$100 million [$94M]. Then the league might talk to him" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/16). The AAP's James Macsmith wrote whether Knights' fans would welcome another cashed-up owner after the failed experiment with Tinkler "remains to be seen." But Knights Members Club Chair Nick Dan, whose organization holds a 20% stake in Newcastle and ensured safeguards such as the A$10M bank guarantee were in place when Tinkler took over in '11, said that "it was likely to be a case of once bitten twice shy for Knights' fans." Dan said, "I think they would be very, very apprehensive after the failed experiment from the past few years. There are much more ownership benefits in the community model for the fans and for Newcastle and it makes for a much stronger business" (AAP, 7/16).

Colombian second division side América de Cali President Oreste Sangiovanni confirmed that his club is "in negotiations with Mexican conglomerate Grupo Pachuca," according to EL UNIVERSAL. Sangiovanni: "I spoke with [Pachuca-owned Liga MX side Leon President] Jésus Martínez and he expressed interest in buying shares in América." Currently, Carlos Slim-owned Grupo Pachuca's interest is "only verbal, but negotiations could advance if América shareholders are interested in selling." Sangiovanni: "The conversations can continue because they are very interested in the América brand. Although the club's situation is not easy and they have to understand this." The club "has to get up to date with its creditors and whoever assumes control will have the same obligations." Grupo Pachuca's intention is to "buy as many shares in the club as it can." Nonetheless, "not all those currently at América are interested in selling all of their shares" (EL UNIVERSAL, 7/16).     

Bayern Munich confirmed on Monday that its 17 Bundesliga home games during the '14-15 season "are completely sold out," according to SPORTAL. The club said that "even for less attractive games like the match against newly promoted SC Paderborn, it received 105,000 ticket requests." The "most sought-after games are the home games against Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke," which drew ticket requests of 207,000 and 183,000, respectively. The club's Allianz Arena has a capacity of 71,137 for Bundesliga games (SPORTAL, 7/15).

Dubai-owned int'l stable Godolphin announced that it "will set up a permanent base in Sydney, Australia," according to Leslie Wilson Jr. of GULF NEWS. The new enterprise "has the potential to augment Godolphin’s global expansion plan and enhance its status in a jurisdiction that boasts the third highest prize money in the world" after the U.S. and Japan. The stable, which has key bases in Dubai, the U.K., Ireland, France and the U.S., "will also become the largest racing operation in the Southern Hemisphere from where it will attempt to end its long wait for a Melbourne Cup triumph" (GULF NEWS, 7/16). Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock advisor John Ferguson said, "Godolphin represents the crown jewels of Sheikh Mohammed’s horseracing operations and the establishment of a permanent presence in Australia is not only testament to his on-going commitment to the racing industry but also to the country at large" (PA, 7/16). In Sydney, "the world famous royal blue colours will replace Darley's maroon and white on all O'Shea-trained runners from the start of the new season" on Aug. 1. Darley "will remain as the Australian breeding arm for Sheikh Mohammed, with horses racing outside of Crown Lodge to still sport the maroon and white silks." It means the constant exodus of some of Darley's best-performed gallopers to Godolphin in Europe "is likely to slow, with O'Shea to be provided more ammunition for cups campaigns in the spring" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 7/16).

The "eagerly awaited" promotion of Lens to Ligue 1 "is still being delayed after an appeal commission upheld a ruling banning them from joining the French top flight on financial grounds," according to INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Lens, the '98 French champions, "are owned by Azerbaijani businessman Hafiz Mammadov, who also owns FC Baku and recently acquired English Championship side Sheffield Wednesday." Lens is reported to be €10M ($13.5M) "short in its budget for next season to meet strict financial criteria." The club said in a statement, "Although the Bank of Azerbaijan has vouched for us ... the appeals commission has kept asking for 10 million euros. As the funds have not yet been transferred to our bank account, the decision has been upheld" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 7/16).