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Volume 10 No. 24

Finance

The "money men" in English and Scottish football have indicated that the financial rules brought in to "address the huge wealth gap between football clubs risk having the opposite effect," according to Mark Odell of the FINANCIAL TIMES. A survey by accounting firm BDO of 67 finance directors from the Premier League, the three Football League divisions and the Scottish Premiership found that 94% thought the wealth gap between the larger and smaller clubs "was widening." Almost 80% of finance chiefs in the EPL and "more than three-quarters in the Football League Championship said the gap had widened within their own leagues." UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules were introduced in attempt to "stop the big established clubs from sucking in a larger and larger share of the wealth." The survey, however, found that "few football clubs thought the rules were having the desired impact." The "big sponsors that bring much of the money into the game are becoming more discerning about where they spend their money." They are "increasingly concentrating their marketing spend on clubs with brands capable of giving them global coverage." BDO partner and former Chelsea CEO Trevor Birch said, "The top six or seven clubs in the EPL will be able to consolidate their superiority with bigger and better global commercial deals." In all, 90% of respondents said that they had "complied with the rules and thought they were workable, while almost half said they needed refining or changing." But almost two-thirds said that they "did not meet their main aim of promoting sustainability" (FT, 8/15).

EPL side Newcastle Owner Mike Ashley "is set to increase his stake" in Scottish Championship side Rangers, according to the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Ashley "has reportedly pledged a significant loan to the Ibrox side after he had knocked back a similar request earlier this year." The billionaire businessman already owns around 7% of the club and "it is believed that stake will be considerably bigger after his cheque is cashed by Rangers, whose cash woes continue." It has been "rumored for some time" that he "wanted to buy Rangers outright and step away from Newcastle United, where he remains an unpopular figure among the fans" (DAILY RECORD, 8/17).

Shanghai-based China Business News reported Chinese sportswear brand Anta Sports on Thursday unveiled its first-half net profit at 803M yuan ($130.5M), up 28.3% from the "same period a year earlier, after it closed more than 1,000 shops over the past two years as part of restructuring efforts," according to the WANT CHINA TIMES. Anta Chair & CEO Ding Shizhong attributed rising profits to its "efficiency in upgrading and reorganizing its shops." First-half revenues grew 22.4% from a year earlier to 4.12B yuan ($670M), posting a "gross profit margin of 45.1%, up 4 percentage points from a year earlier." Currently, Anta totals 7,701 shops, "down 56 from last year," of which its children sports brand shops "grew 106 from end-2013 to 987," and FILA shops rose from 25 to 441 since the end of '13 (WANT CHINA TIMES, 8/15).