A "major British family investor," the first to be named by businesswoman Amanda Staveley as a financial backer of her £250M ($347.3M) bid to buy Premier League side Newcastle United, said that it is no longer "planning to invest in the club," according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. According to both parties, the Reuben family "did agree financial terms to support Staveley's bid in December, but after her offer was rejected the family has not been involved with it since." A representative of Staveley, when asked how she is proposing to fund the planned takeover of the club from Sports Direct Owner Mike Ashley, said on Wednesday that he had been "authorised to reveal that the London-based Reuben family is one of her co-investors." Before that, Staveley had not publicly named any backers. Organized corporately as Reuben Brothers -- a property, private equity and venture capital conglomerate headed by brothers David and Simon Reuben -- the family has a "very sizeable and financially powerful business." Staveley's representative said that the Reuben family's proposed investment in Newcastle had been led by David's son Jamie. A source close to Jamie Reuben confirmed that they were approached by Staveley in November, and they agreed on financial terms for their involvement. The official spokesperson for Reuben Brothers confirmed that the family "did consider whether they might invest in Newcastle," but said that Simon Reuben is "unequivocal that they are not doing so" (GUARDIAN, 1/17
Charles Russell Speechlys "sealed a deal to merge with City sports law boutique Couchmans, following the departure of several sports-focused partners from both firms last year." Couchmans' four partners and seven fee-earners will join CRS on Monday. Couchmans, which was founded in '01 by Chair Nic Couchman, works with clients including Ascot Racecourse, the Int'l Tennis Federation, Fitbit and Rapha Racing (LEGAL WEEK, 1/17).
Serie C side Vicenza was declared bankrupt by a tribunal on Thursday, "bringing 115 years of history to an end." The club's players have not been paid since September and "have taken strike action in recent weeks." Vicenza will be allowed to continue league play until the end of the season, and has "until the start of next season for interested parties to form a new club" (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 1/18).
Low-cost fitness operator The Gym "hailed" record openings and a "surge in memberships last year, as it teamed up with supermarkets and hotels to share space." CEO John Treharne, a former England squash player who founded the group in '08, said that the company opened 21 sites in '17, which was a record for the company in one year. The company has been responsible for 65% of the "growth of the low-cost gym sector since March" (London TELEGRAPH, 1/16).