London Spitfire, the sole European representative in the Overwatch League, "now has a stronger connection with its home nation," according to Angelos Anastasopoulos of THE ESPORTS OBSERVER. The franchise announced a partnership with the Code Red Esports agency to run the team's operations in the U.K. The London Spitfire brand is owned by Cloud9, an American esports organization, "and is currently de facto based in California." Code Red Esports Managing Dir Paul Chaloner said, "We first started discussing with Cloud9 back in September on how we could collaborate." According to the announcement, Code Red Esports' "main goal will be to engage British audiences and create a Spitfire fanbase" within the U.K. Chaloner: "We won't be directly scouting for the team. But we will be working on a way to help U.K. players gain exposure through the brand and via competitions we have planned in 2018" (THE ESPORTS OBSERVER, 12/8).
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Premiership Rugby side Worcester Warriors will have many of its best players "cherry-picked by rival clubs if, as seems likely," the club fails to meet a pledge "to have a new owner announced by the end of the week," according to Owen Slot of the LONDON TIMES. The club has been "up for sale all season" and it has 21 players out of contract at the end of this season, "many of whom have refused to commit longer term to the club because of the uncertainty." Warriors "will also need a new director of rugby" because Gary Gold is leaving for a job with the U.S. national team. The players "had been told that they would be informed of the new owner by the end of this week." However, "the frontrunner to take over at Sixways had an initial offer rejected last week." Amid "all the uncertainty, leading players will be reluctant to extend their contracts." There have "already been numerous transfer conversations," but from Jan. 1, rival English clubs will be able to offer contracts formally (LONDON TIMES, 12/11).
SRU EYES CLUB: In Worcester, Geoff Berkeley reported the Scottish Rugby Union is "reportedly close to securing a takeover of Worcester Warriors" after a bid from ex-League Two side Swindon Town Chair Jed McCrory failed. The Evesham-based businessman "had been granted a period of exclusivity to complete the deal." But that "reportedly expired on Friday without agreement and the SRU is now believed to be in pole position" to take control of the club. A deal "is expected to be concluded this week" (WORCESTER NEWS, 12/10).
Premier League side Newcastle Mangaer Rafa Benítez told Owner Mike Ashley that he must honor "the cash promises he made in the summer" to protect the club's EPL status, according to Martin Hardy of the London INDEPENDENT. Ashley was photographed after meeting financier Amanda Staveley "in a curry house" last Wednesday. It "is believed to be the first time the pair have met" as Staveley looks to convince Ashley to sell her the club for £250M ($334M). The Christmas deadline originally favored by Ashley to conclude the sale "has now effectively passed and there is only the possibility of any sort of agreement" before the end of January. That is "potentially a major problem" for Benítez as he "looks to steer Newcastle away from the relegation zone." There was a "major falling out at the club in the summer" when he believed "more should have been spent on players following promotion." A figure of £70M "had been mentioned" following a meeting in Shirebrook with Ashley. Just over £40M "ended up being spent." Benítez: "I'm expecting the money we weren't spending (in the summer) could be available, so hopefully we can sit down and see where we are. I think it's obvious that we have some positions that we have to reinforce" (INDEPENDENT, 12/8).