Barcelona is suing Neymar for €8.5M ($10M) for "alleged breach of contract and demanding he return the loyalty bonus paid after he renewed his deal in October," less than a year before he signed for Paris St. Germain, the club said Tuesday, according to Rik Sharma of REUTERS. Barcelona is asking for an additional 10% payment "due to a delay" in its demands being met, "after presenting the Brazilian striker with them" on Aug. 11 (REUTERS, 8/22). The LONDON TIMES reported Neymar's relations with Barcelona "have turned sour." On Monday, Neymar said that Barcelona deserved "much more" than the current board of directors and added that it made him "very sad" (LONDON TIMES, 8/22).
CAUSE FOR CONCERN: EL PERIÓDICO reported former Barcelona presidential candidate Agustí Benedito, who is leading a censure motion against current President Josep María Bartomeu and the club's board, "appeared very concerned with the renewal of Lionel Messi, which has still not been finalized, and by the club's general situation." Benedito: "The institutional situation of Barça at the moment is very grave. The board has had all summer to make signings and it seems that the roster is not going to be better than it was last year." He added, "The case with Messi could be worse than the one with Neymar because as of now, he will be free on Jan. 1" (EL PERIÓDICO, 8/22). In London, Ed Malyon reported it is "now just over four months" until Messi and Andrés Iniesta "can begin to discuss Bosman transfers" for the summer of '18. That, in one sentence, "highlights Barcelona's incompetence in tying down their best players" to new deals. Messi will sign, Barcelona says. The club "crowed loudly" when it came to an agreement over an extension in early July and the plan was that when Messi returned from Argentina in mid-July he would sign that contract until '21. But that "important final act is yet to take place and there are more than a few nerves beginning to jangle behind the scenes." In a "turbulent summer" when the directors "remain under serious pressure," all the leverage "remains with Camp Messi." Iniesta this week "chose to speak out." He "broached the subject of his own contractual situation very carefully" but hinted that he was not "pleased with how things had gone" (INDEPENDENT, 8/22).
The Australian Rugby Union rejected an offer of around A$50M ($40M) from billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest to "save the code and look after the financial burden of the Western Force," according to Tom Decent of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Forrest "was flanked" by former ARU Dir Geoff Stooke and "West Australia's first homegrown Wallaby," John Wellborn, at the meeting. The trio met with ARU Chair Cameron Clyne, Deputy Chair Brett Robinson as well as director and former Wallabies captain John Eales. During a three-hour meeting in Adelaide, Forrest told the ARU that "there would be no financial risk to the game's governing body" if the Force is able to continue in Super Rugby. Forrest reportedly put an offer of around A$50M on the table to the ARU to help it "out of financial trouble." The ARU rejected Forrest's offer at the meeting and "made it clear" the union is committed to cutting the Force. Clyne said, "We were genuinely appreciative of Andrew's generous offer to back the Western Force and Australian Rugby, however, given the position we are in, we are unable to work towards retaining five teams in Super Rugby." Although disappointed, Forrest said that "he was pleased the ARU outlined its commitment to working with the Force" to develop a new int'l competition based in Western Australia (SMH, 8/22).
ASIAN COMPETITION: The AAP reported the Western Force will "consider launching a new rugby union competition in Asia" if it cannot win its way back into Super Rugby ranks after the club was axed by the ARU earlier this month. RugbyWA will learn on Wednesday whether its appeal against the ARU’s decision to axe the Force "will be heard in the NSW Supreme Court." If not -- or if the appeal fails -- the Force "will be left with no other choice but to explore playing elsewhere." During the Force's supporter rally on Sunday, Forrest "threw up a curve ball" by saying that he would start his own int'l league if the Supreme Court appeal failed. Force CEO Mark Sinderberry said that the idea "had merit." Sinderberry: "This is a really exciting concept and picks up on some interesting rugby we're seeing in Asia. Certainly Twiggy's [Forrest] vision is one we'd be very excited to understand. It's an embryonic idea, but one worth exploring" (AAP, 8/21).
Danny Townsend beat "almost 70 rivals" to the A-League side Sydney FC CEO post, and the "unenviable task of filling the big shoes left behind" by Tony Pignata, who "turned around the club's finances and oversaw last season's premiership success" during his five-year tenure, according to James Buckley of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The former Parramatta Power and Sydney United player starts his new role in October. Townsend has worked in the media and entertainment fields "with major sporting clubs" in Europe, Asia and the U.S. He is the co-founder of sports intelligence agency Repucom, and was "more recently a co-global managing director of Nielsen Sports" (SMH, 8/22). In Sydney, Tom Smithies reported Townsend will start his new role in October with a brief to "drive the club's commercial revenues, crowds and memberships to a level commensurate with being A-League champions." Townsend "offers knowledge of the Sydney sporting landscape on the pitch and in the boardroom." Viewed as a "sponsorship and marketing expert, his role will undoubtedly focus on giving his new club more cut-through in a hugely competitive city." Townsend: "I am a born and raised Sydneysider with a passion for football and I am very proud to be Sydney FC's new CEO" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 8/21).