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Volume 6 No. 196


Premier League side Newcastle United confirmed that the club is "up for sale," raising the prospect of Owner Mike Ashley "ending his reign" at St. James' Park that has spanned the last decade, according to Jack de Menezes of the London INDEPENDENT. The 53-year-old bought the club in July '07 after investing around £134M, "saving it from possible financial ruin by paying off substantial debts left by the previous owners." A Newcastle statement said, "As a result of increasing press speculation regarding the future of Newcastle United, the owner of the club, St. James Holdings Limited, wishes to clarify its intentions. ... To give the club the best possible opportunity of securing the positioning and investment necessary to take it to the next level, at what is an important time in its history, its present ownership has determined that it is in the best interests of Newcastle United and its fans for the club to be put up for sale. To give an incoming owner the maximum possible flexibility to make meaningful investment in the club, including in its playing squad, the sale process will give interested parties the opportunity of deferring substantial payments." The news, while "something of a surprise" with the club performing well in the Premier League, is "not a complete shock" given the appearance of financier Amanda Staveley at Newcastle's home ground during the match against Liverpool at the start of the month (INDEPENDENT, 10/16).

An application has "been formally lodged" to the Rugby Football League for a team based in N.Y. to join the British game’s professional leagues in '19, according to Aaron Bower of the London GUARDIAN. A Super League game could be taken to the U.S. next year should the application "be approved." A consortium, backed by two unnamed investors who will provide an initial $10M of funding, has applied to the RFL about a "second transatlantic team joining, following the success of Toronto Wolfpack," which was introduced to the third tier, League 1, this season. The club was promoted as champion, with "crowds of more than 7,000." The N.Y. side, like the Wolfpack, intends to start in League 1, "as opposed to automatic entry into a higher division such as the Super League or the Championship." Like Toronto, it would "pay for all visiting teams’ costs, including flights, accommodation and travel." The consortium, co-founded by Yorkshire-based entrepreneur Ricky Wilby, confirmed it has held discussions with some Super League clubs about taking a top-flight game to the U.S. in '18 to "whet" N.Y.'s appetite for rugby league. Wilby: "Should we be accepted, we'd like to take a Super League game there. We've spoken to one or two about it." The team would play home games at Major League Soccer club N.Y. Red Bulls' stadium, with the consortium confident it would be able to attract crowds in the region of 10,000. The project "also has the support of the city’s tourist board, New York City Go" (GUARDIAN, 10/15).

IN THE CROSSHAIRS: In Sydney, Dean Ritchie reported the consortium is ready to target National Rugby League players with A$1M ($780,000)-a-season offers to play rugby league in N.Y. Players including Johnathan Thurston, Cam Smith, Billy Slater, Jarryd Hayne, Paul Gallen and Greg Inglis "will be targeted" with the lure of living in N.Y. It could signal a U.S. return for Hayne, "who carved out a short yet successful NFL stint with the San Francisco 49ers." Player agent David Riolo said, "I think they will (target a big name). Maybe not a big-name player in his prime but there are still a lot of really big names doing really good things in their early 30s. Some of my clients like Ryan Hoffman, Smith, Gallen, the Morris twins [Josh and Brett], Trent Hodkinson -- they would all look at it to go." Another player agent, Steve Gillis, added, "They will be looking for the right character. Players who can entertain and have that x-factor, light up the stadium. Players like Thurston and Slater would be ideal." Clubs in the Championship "are allowed a marquee player who is exempt from the salary cap," and N.Y. officials have "already started discussing which Australian stars could fill that role." Agent Al Gainey, who has Inglis, Bryce Cartwright and Matt Moylan "on his books," said, "They would want to attract a big name to start" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 10/16).

Tottenham is "hated" for its Jewish origins, Spanish newspaper Marca claimed, according to Ed Malyon of the London INDEPENDENT. The publication "printed the shocking claims on Monday" as part of its preview for Spurs' visit to Real Madrid in the Champions League this week. Tottenham is described as a club "hated, but with good footballing style." Marca expanded on that by claiming "their Jewish origin has made them into a club disliked by rival fans," before adding "but in their 135 years of existence they have always had style and great players." While Spurs "traditionally have a large Jewish following," the club was formed by members of Hotspur Cricket Club in 1882 "with assistance from a Bible class teacher from the local church," John Ripsher, who later became the club's first president. Tottenham said in a statement, "We are astonished that a publication such as Marca, which presents itself as an alleged source of professional journalism, has seen fit to publish such an article which is blatantly wrong and wholly distasteful" (INDEPENDENT, 10/16). In London, Shergold & Jenson reported Marca's article said, "Throughout their history, they have been frowned upon by the followers of other London clubs, mainly by their big enemy Arsenal but also by the followers of West Ham and Chelsea and other capital clubs of a lesser pedigree, spreading the animosity to the rest of the country, where it is normal to hear the deafening chant 'stand up if you hate Tottenham' when they take to the field. Since its beginnings the club has had an undeniable connection with the Jewish community represented in directors, coaches and players. And the current owner and president, Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy, are Jewish." The article "caused outrage on social media" and Tottenham "condemned the sentiments in it." In a statement published later on Monday, the author of the piece, Enrique Ortega, stated "regret" over the way the article had been viewed, "blaming a mistranslation of the word 'odiado' -- meaning 'hated.'" The statement said, "The article has generated controversy in England for an erroneous interpretation of the word 'hated,' that is also employed in the text. This 'hatred' that Tottenham suffer is very concentrated in the radical and racist groups that hide in the social mass of especially Chelsea and West Ham. Evidently these groups in no way represent English fans in general or English society" (DAILY MAIL, 10/16). The London TELEGRAPH reported earlier this season, Chelsea announced it would "ban any fans involved in anti-Semitic chanting" after condemning a song involving Álvaro Morata. A section of the traveling Chelsea supporters at the King Power Stadium for the victory over Leicester City sang "Álvaro, oh, Álvaro, oh. He came from Real Madrid, he hates the f------ Yids" in reference to Chelsea’s rivalry with Spurs. Chelsea, whose owner, Roman Abramovich, is the chair of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, ordered its fans to "stop the Morata song" (TELEGRAPH, 10/16).

League One side Wigan Athletic is "in talks with Chinese investors over a potential takeover." Players at the club were "informed at training on Monday that negotiations have taken place with a consortium from the Far East." Dave Whelan, who has owned the club since '95, has been "open to a takeover or new investment for some years and more discussions are planned" (London DAILY MAIL, 10/16).

Aston Martin has been recruiting staff with Formula 1 experience as it continues to assess whether it will join the sport as an engine supplier. Aston Martin has already taken the next step in its partnership with Red Bull by becoming its title sponsor for next season (Aston Martin). 

Scottish Premiership side Dundee announced plans to increase its team of youth academy coaches as part of its Project Brave bid. The team has advertised six new coaching positions that it hopes will "raise the club's next generation of footballers" (SCOTSMAN, 10/16).

Barcelona announced Camp Nou has a new exhibition space which aims to highlight the power of sport through the work carried out by the FC Barcelona Foundation. The space uses new technologies including robots, 360-degree vision glasses and touch screens to show the methods, programs and areas of work the foundation uses to help children (Barcelona).