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Volume 6 No. 265

Franchises

Premiership Rugby side London Irish "vowed to resist any pressure to sell" its stake in the Premiership from rival clubs that "want to establish a 12-team competition," according to Alex Lowe of the LONDON TIMES. A group of "influential club owners" are understood to have raised the idea of the Premiership buying back the so-called "P share" from one of its 13 stakeholder clubs and then "pulling up the drawbridge by ending promotion and relegation." It is the "most radical ringfencing proposal to have been floated," given that it would "effectively kill off the top-flight ambitions of one of England's leading professional clubs." The 12 Premiership clubs and Rugby Football Union Championship side Bristol own the shares. Bristol is "preparing for a return to the top flight," while London Irish is at the bottom of the Premiership. But Mick Crossan, who owns 70% of London Irish, said that he "will not sell his stake in the Premiership." Crossan wants £10M ($14M) of fresh investment to take the club "to the next level." He "supports ringfencing the Premiership but not at the expense of his own club or any other, and wants a 14-team league with a moratorium on relegation" (LONDON TIMES, 1/23).

League One side Wigan Athletic confirmed it is at "an advanced stage" in takeover talks with an unnamed party, according to Simon Stone of the BBC. Speaking at the club's annual general meeting on Monday, CEO Jonathan Jackson said that Owner Dave Whelan intended to "hand over the stewardship" of the club he bought in '95. In October, a non-disclosure agreement was signed with a Hong Kong group. Jackson said, "We are at an advanced stage in a process. However, it is not yet complete." He added that a deal "will only take place in the best interests of Wigan Athletic" (BBC, 1/23).

EPL side Crystal Palace pledged to "help rehouse families whose homes face being bulldozed to make way" for its £100M ($140M) stadium redevelopment. The club plans to increase the capacity at Selhurst Park to 34,000, with a new five-story stand "which will require four council houses to be demolished." It will also "encroach on the front garden of a privately owned house in a cul-de-sac." The project is being designed by KSS, the architect behind the redevelopment of sports venues including Anfield, Twickenham and Wimbledon (London EVENING STANDARD, 1/23).

Eredivisie side Feyenoord will establish a football academy in China "in collaboration with China's Viva China sports agency," the two sides announced Tuesday. Viva China CEO Li Ning said that the company will establish a different football academy development way "compared to traditional boarding" football schools. She said, "Unlike traditional boarding schools, children do not need to leave their homes, schools or social education to receive world-class training" (GLOBAL TIMES, 1/23).