F1 team Mercedes is reportedly "interested in the services of four-time world champion and current Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel," according to the SID. The 27-year-old "could replace British driver Lewis Hamiliton at the Silver Arrows in '16 and form a German driver duo together with Nico Rosberg." Hamilton "is reportedly unhappy with his current situation at Mercedes." Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve said, "Lewis Hamilton won't be here much longer. Everyone on the German team wants the German to win the world championship." Vettel's contract with Red Bull and Hamilton's contract with Mercedes both end in '15. Red Bull Motorsports Dir Helmut Marko said that McLaren "also tried to woo Vettel with a 'shamelessly' high offer" (SID, 7/23).
Spanish second division side Real Zaragoza's sale to the Fundación Zaragoza 2032 group, which is led by Telefónica President César Alierta, is "awaiting confirmation," according to the EFE. The Fundación group is "hoping the deal is finalized as soon as possible" ahead of the '14-15 season. The first step will involve former Zaragoza Owner Agapito Iglesias "trying to buy back his 90.62% stake in the club," which he sold to to a group of local businessmen on June 4. Without this, "no transaction will be possible." Fundación representative Cristian Lapetra said, "We are waiting for everything to be expressed in a contract, both for Iglesias to buy back his share and for him to sell it to us for €1 ($1.35)." After more than a month of "continuous ups and downs," with the club "fruitlessly waiting for the arrival of various investors from all over the world," Lapetra said that his group "is not expecting a last-minute surprise because 'everything is basically tied up.'" He thanked Iglesias for "taking the first step" after the former club owner announced in a statement his "intention to sell 72% of the club's shares to the Fundación Zaragoza 2032, while the other 18% would go to the Fundación Real Zaragoza, which would distribute it to club shareholders and season-ticket holders." Now the goal is to "arrive on time before the Spanish Football League (LFP) and meet its deadlines on when the club must pay off its debt" (EFE, 7/23).
ManU Manager Louis van Gaal "has won his first power struggle" after claiming that the club has bowed to his demands for a shorter preseason tour next summer, according to James Ducker of the LONDON TIMES. Van Gaal "renewed his attack on the extent of the club’s commercial commitments" and complained about the disruption being caused to his preparations for the new season as a result of the "dreadful distances" the squad is having to travel on its tour of the U.S. In "the clearest sign yet of the authority he now wields at Old Trafford," the Dutchman said that "he had received assurances from the club’s hierarchy that the squad would not have to undertake another marathon trip 12 months from now." Asked if the commercial commitments were impinging on his plans, Van Gaal "did not attempt to conceal his frustration." Van Gaal: "More or less, yes, because we have to prepare the season and when you have a lot of commercial activities and dreadful distances [to travel] and have to fly a lot and also jet lag that is not very positive for a good preparation" (LONDON TIMES, 7/23). REUTERS' Patrick Johnston wrote ManU plays Major League Soccer side L.A. Galaxy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Wednesday and then has "at least three more matches in Denver, Washington and Detroit" as part of the Int'l Champions Cup. It "could play a fourth," in Miami on Aug. 4, if it reaches the final after the matches against Serie A side AS Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Last year, ManU went on a lengthy preseason tour of Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong "after agreeing several commercial deals in the region." Van Gaal said that "he expected United's next tour, likely to be in Asia again, to be much shorter" (REUTERS, 7/23). In London, Mark Ogden wrote the Dutchman was "almost 30 minutes late for his pre-match press conference" in Pasadena. Van Gaal said, "This is the first time I am late for a press conference, but it is the Los Angeles traffic, so I am sorry for that." ManU has "proven to be trend-setters for the lengthy summer tours now undertaken by many leading clubs," with the club traveling the globe every preseason for more than a decade in order to promote its brand (TELEGRAPH, 7/23).
A-League side Perth Glory "could face possible sanctions from Football Federation Australia after refusing to play in a pre-season friendly against NSW Premier League club Sydney Olympic" on Wednesday, according to Ray Gatt of THE AUSTRALIAN. In what is looming as an "embarrassing situation" for the Western Australians, Olympic officials "were left stunned when Glory turned up for the game at Belmore Oval" before informing the club that it would not take the field. The decision not to play "is remarkable given the two clubs are close to signing a memorandum of understanding to forge a partnership." That must now be "in serious doubt with Olympic left to carry the cost of ground hire, corporate boxes, fees for match officials, security and catering." No official reason "has been given for the last-minute pullout by Glory." According to coach Kenny Lowe "it was his decision to call off the game." Lowe: "I made the decision not to play. Unfortunately we couldn’t prepare correctly to play the game. We had no changing rooms, no warm-up area. I made a professional decision that if we can’t prepare correctly for a game then we are not going to play the game" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/23).
Spanish second division side Real Valladolid is "no longer in bankruptcy," which it entered in Dec. '11. A Spanish court on Tuesday announced its approval of an agreement on a payment plan between Valladolid and its creditors. With "this ruling, the team's creditors, Ricardo Nieto Sampayo and Juan Barco Vara, cease their intervention with the club" (AS, 7/23). ... Spanish basketball club Bilbao Basket President Jon Davalillo "expressed optimism" after his club was dropped from the Spanish Basketball League (ACB) for the upcoming season for economic reasons. The club's execs are "continuing to fight for the club's survival while considering various paths to take." Davalillo: "We are not here to talk, we are here to work. We are alive and the club council is continuing to work on the options that we have on the table. We cannot advance anything, but we are not stopping" (MARCA, 7/23).