Neymar will "fight a claim by Barcelona for compensation" following his move to Paris St. Germain and "has also promised to battle his old club" for part of his '16 contract renewal premium which he claims has not been paid, according to the PA. Neymar and his lawyers "released a joint statement" in response to Barcelona saying on Tuesday that it was pursuing damages for "breach of contract." They said in the statement, "We inform everyone that Neymar and his lawyers are aware of the news released today regarding the legal actions filed by FC Barcelona before the courts of Barcelona. Following official notification and after full review of the club's claim, the player's formal defence will be filed in due course. Regarding the bonuses owed for the execution of the contract of 2016, it is also necessary to inform that the player has already initiated the formal procedures of collection before the competent courts" (PA, 8/23).
CYBER ATTACK: ESPN.com's Samuel Marsden reported Barcelona confirmed that its social media accounts were hacked after the club "had appeared to announce the signing" of Ángel Di María from PSG. The club's official Twitter and Facebook pages made posts on Tuesday that said, "Welcome Angel Di Maria to FC Barcelona." It "soon transpired it was a hack, though," when a group calling itself OurMine claimed responsibility and "encouraged people to get '#FCBHack' trending on Twitter" (ESPN.com, 8/24).
Auckland businessman Paul Davys "abandoned plans to buy" National Rugby League side New Zealand Warriors after his bid was rejected by Owner Eric Watson, according to David Skipwith of the NEW ZEALAND HERALD. Davys confirmed he would "not be following through with plans to buy" the franchise, blaming a "confusing process" as the reason why the deal "fell through." His offer of NZ$15M ($10.8M) on Tuesday was "knocked back" by Watson, who was "holding out seeking" NZ$20M ($14.5M) for the club he has owned in part since '00. Davys "expressed his frustration over the way negotiations were handled by Watson" and said that he "received mixed messages about whether his bid would be accepted." He added, "Eric made it known to me last night that he was not happy with my offer which by the way was a good and fair offer that two weeks ago was accepted subject to due diligence which was to take place this week. ... To say I'm disappointed is an understatement" (NZ HERALD, 8/23).
Man City's parent company, City Football Group, made La Liga side Girona "the sixth club of its widening portfolio" after confirming a deal to purchase a "major stake" in the club, according to Jamie Jackson of the London GUARDIAN. The terms give CFG a 44.3% share and an "identical holding to Girona Football Group," the agency owned by Man City Manager Pep Guardiola's brother Pere. The remaining stake is owned by a Girona fans' association. Girona is playing in La Liga for the first time in its 87-year history after promotion last season. The clubs said that negotiations began last year and that Girona's "on- and off-field potential, together with a positive academy track record" played a "significant part in bringing the deal to fruition." Man City "already had close links with the Catalan team," having loaned them five players this summer: Pablo Maffeo, Aleix García, Douglas Luiz, Marlos Moreno and Larry Kayode. A statement announcing the agreement said that Girona would "benefit from City Football Group's extensive networks in infrastructure, coaching, recruitment, youth development and executive leadership in addition to its global media, marketing and commercial capabilities." CFG CEO Ferran Soriano added, "The opportunity to invest in the future of Girona was compelling. We will listen and learn, and do whatever is necessary to support the club and its fans in achieving the long-term sustainability they rightly desire" (GUARDIAN, 8/23).
An NSW Supreme Court judge granted the Western Force "the right to appeal the Australian Rugby Union's decision to axe the team" from Super Rugby, according to the AAP. Justice David Hammerschlag said on Wednesday that he had read written submissions from the Force and the ARU and "believed an appeal should be heard." The judge said that he would "go straight into hearing the appeal on Wednesday." The news comes as a "big boost for the Force," whose survival hopes were "dealt a blow on Tuesday" when the ARU rejected a multi-million dollar offer from billionaire Andrew Forrest to save the franchise. RugbyWA is arguing the ARU "had no right to axe the Force under the terms of the alignment deal that was struck last year." The size of Forrest's offer to the ARU "stunned the rugby public." But the ARU said that it could not reinstate the Force because SANZAAR "had already eliminated a 16-team Super competition for a number of reasons" (AAP, 8/22). In Sydney, Phil Lutton reported Rugby Union Players' Association CEO Ross Xenos "has been left bewildered" by the ARU's rejection of Forrest's A$50M ($39.5M) bid to save the Western Force, "but welcomed the chance to appeal the team's axing." Xenos said that the RUPA did not believe the ARU "had taken enough time to digest the offer from Forrest when it met on Tuesday." He said, "We're deeply disappointed, surprised and bewildered at the fact that a very generous offer to secure the long-term future of the grassroots game was not, as far as we're aware, engaged with by the ARU." The "entire competition is now at the mercy of the court decision," with SANZAAR "unable to so much as issue a draw until the matter has been resolved" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 8/23).
NOT ON THE SAME PAGE: In Sydney, Wayne Smith reported prior to Forrest meeting with ARU Chair Cameron Clyne in Adelaide on Tuesday, the ARU reportedly "proposed a solution that if Forrest provided financial backing for the Force and also made a substantial donation" to Australian rugby, it would "seriously consider reversing its decision" to axe the Force. A Force representative said, "It was, in fact, more explicit than that. They actually gave us a figure. What Andrew was talking about was in the ballpark (of what they asked)." But "that is not how Clyne recalls events." He said in a statement, "I had discussions with a number of people in Perth prior to the meeting with Andrew on Tuesday to articulate some of the roadblocks for considering any possibility of reversing our decision to discontinue the Force" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/24).
Scottish Championship side Dunfermline Athletic offered fans an apology after admitting the turnstile fiasco during its derby with Falkirk was "amateurish and unprofessional," according to Alan Temple of the Scotland DAILY RECORD. Hundreds of Dunfermline supporters "suffered delays at East End Park" on Saturday as the club's updated electronic entry system "continues to endure teething problems." Many fans "missed the opening two goals" against Falkirk. In a "brutally honest" statement, the club acknowledged the situation has been "embarrassing" and "lambasted the third-party responsible for the installation of the technology for broken promises." Dunfermline does not host another fixture until Sept. 16, and it hopes to solve the entry issue by that date -- "albeit more than a month after the system was slated to be tested and fully operational" (DAILY RECORD, 8/22).