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Volume 7 No. 149

International Football

Would-be A-League franchise Team 11 is "hopeful" that it might be able to rely on "investment" from one of Australia's greatest ever racehorses to "boost its bid," according to Michael Lynch of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. If the Team 11 group from Melbourne's southeastern region ends up winning the nod for one of the new A-League licenses, its supporters and backers "can, in a roundabout way, thank the champion racehorse Black Caviar." One of the horse's co-owners is Colin Madden, the managing director of Dandenong-based First Mortgage Lending & Investment. He has "sunk" around A$1M ($732,200) into backing the Team 11 bid, joking, "If it gets up, they can thank Black Caviar just a little," referring to his share of the nearly A$8M ($5.8M) in stake money the sprinter amassed "during her five-season career when she won 25 consecutive races and retired unbeaten." Madden sees the putative football club "as a way of building community spirit" in South East Melbourne. He said, "We are risking a million dollars in this project. Our whole working life has been based here. Twenty years ago, there were 89 different languages spoken in the primary school. That would be double now. We have got to find a way of bringing our communities together rather than blowing them apart. I can think of no better way than through football in this community." Madden is "not expecting to make any money out of the initiative." He added, "I think this will be a heritage investment. What I have found in life is if you put something in, you get something back" (SMH, 11/28).

NO CASH COMPENSATION: In Sydney, Dominic Bossi reported A-League expansion bidder Southern Expansion is "offering to pay a seven-figure sum to Sydney FC as compensation for encroaching" on its territory. Should the Sutherland Shire-based bid gain entry, it will propose paying a A$1M "structural adjustment package" to Sydney FC, which has "staunchly opposed" the inclusion of the group as part of A-League expansion. Sydney FC declined to comment, though club sources said that there has been "no direct communication from Southern Expansion on any matter and that the Sky Blues have been made aware of Southern Expansion's intention to offer compensation only through third parties." It is understood Sydney FC "will not accept any cash payment from Southern Expansion" and the Sky Blues are "in no mood to enter negotiations with the group over any form of potential compensation, irrespective of the offer" (SMH, 11/28).

GROWING PAINS: In Sydney, Vince Rugari reported next season "could be the longest in A-League history," with Football Federation Australia "trapped between a rock and a hard place" as it ponders the structure of an expanded competition. Expansion is "still a live possibility" for the '19-20 campaign. However, no decision has been taken yet by FFA management on how many rounds the A-League should have with 12 teams, and "there are split views" among various stakeholders. There appear to be three options and "none of them are ideal." The first is to play 22 games, with each side playing each other twice. The second option is to play 33 games -- six more rounds than the current competition. Fox Sports is understood to be "somewhat resistant to this as it would lead to further costs in broadcasting the additional matches and more overlap with the winter codes." The third, and "most controversial," option is to keep the season at the current length of 27 games. The catch is that "not every team would play each other the same amount of times" (SMH, 11/28).

Compared to the ultra-expensive EPL, acquiring a club in one of the leagues overseen by the English Football League is becoming an increasingly interesting proposition for foreign buyers. "There is no doubt that Premier League clubs are exceptionally expensive; just look at the investment that has gone into Manchester United and Liverpool," EFL CEO Shaun Harvey said on Wednesday at SBJ's Dealmakers in Sports conference in N.Y. The EFL encompasses the three levels of professional football underneath the Premier League in England and Wales. Harvey: "For the 72 clubs across the English Football League, the Premier League can be on the horizon, as well as the goal of increasing their financial value, as well as the status that it brings."

Recent investments into teams in the EFL pyramid by American owners include Shahid Khan's '13 acquisition of Fulham, which was promoted to the EPL this season. Also, Wes Edens in July acquired a portion of Aston Villa, which plays in the League Championship. "Each club has different aspirations. For some it's promotion; for some it's just to stay in the league; for some it's to benefit their community," Harvey said. "My mandate is, what can be done to the benefit of the collective."

Meanwhile, the EFL's recent five-year deal with Sky Sports was valued at more than $764M, an increase of 35% over the previous deal. The league also holds central sponsorship rights for the collective clubs, from which it distributes to each club. But while many new owners in lower-level football are keen on chasing promotion to the EPL, Harvey noted that there is the opposite operation risk. "If you're going to look at the big upside of promotion, you also have to recognize the downside of relegation," he said. "Last year's prize for getting promoted to the Premier League was 175 million pounds, but the hidden fact of that is that you have to spend the majority of that to compete in the Premier League."

Reports of discriminatory abuse in football increased 11% last season, a sixth successive annual rise, according to Alistair Magowan of the BBC. Figures from anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out revealed a total of 520 reports, up from 469 in '16-17. Reports of racism make up 53% of the overall total -- up 22% from the previous season -- while reports of homophobia have increased 9%. Kick It Out Education Manager Troy Townsend said, "We are at our most worrying period of time within the game. The risk to the game is that it's taking us back to a time which some people thought never existed. Twenty-five years ago, hatred towards black players was at its highest. But how far have we come?" The figures do not include discrimination reported to club stewards, which Townsend said could mean the picture was "a lot worse" (BBC, 11/28). The London TELEGRAPH reported Kick It Out Chair Herman Ouseley said, "While the increased reports reflect a greater inclination among fans to complain about unacceptable abuse, these trends reflect, in part, what is happening in the rest of society. Hate crime reports have doubled over the last year to more than 94,000. Football cannot be complacent about the risk to the game this represents" (TELEGRAPH, 11/28).

Nicky Butt: "I would get some money out of UEFA to put into a pot to fund tier two or tier three teams."
Nicky Butt: "I would get some money out of UEFA to put into a pot to fund tier two or tier three teams."
Nicky Butt: "I would get some money out of UEFA to put into a pot to fund tier two or tier three teams."

European football's U19 league needs £10M ($12.8M) of investment from UEFA to "make it better," ManU Academy Dir Nicky Butt said. The competition runs parallel to the Champions League, "with most matches played on the afternoon of the senior team's game in the evening." Butt wants the extra funding to "help smaller teams travel to games earlier so they can play the night before" (BBC, 11/28).

FIFA was urged by its human rights advisory panel to "give Iran a deadline" for allowing women to attend football matches. In a report, the panel said that Iran's ban on women fans violated FIFA's ethics code, which "specifically prohibits discrimination including on the basis of gender." Iranian women have not been allowed to attend any men's sporting events in the country for "much of the 39 years since the Islamic revolution" (REUTERS, 11/26).

The FAs of China and Qatar signed a five-year collaboration on Monday. The countries will "create exchange programs in various age groups to develop youth football." The QFA will "rely on assistance" from the Aspire Academy and Aspetar Sports Medicine Hospital to strengthen its exchange programs with the CFA (YUTANG SPORTS, 11/28).

England Manager Gareth Southgate is "urging coaches and parents to only give positive encouragement to young players" as part of the FA's "Respect" campaign. According to FA research, 90% of young players "perform better in a supportive environment" and that is the idea behind the "Respect" campaign's new "We Only Do Positive" handbook. Launched on Wednesday, the coaching guide is based on Southgate's five principles of positive coaching (London INDEPENDENT, 11/28).

The Asian Football Confederation Exec Committee pledged its support to the Palestine FA after recent interference in its football jurisdiction by Israeli military forces and proposed the establishment of a task force to address the situation. AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa: "We will discuss with FIFA to set up a task force to address this issue immediately" (AFC).

FIFA wants the Pakistan Football Federation election to be held "according to the timeline it has set," the governing body said on Tuesday, weeks after the country's Supreme Court ordered the PFF to "hold polls within a month." Last month, FIFA's Member Associations Committee gave the Faisal Saleh Hayat-led PFF until March '20 to hold fresh elections (DAWN, 11/28).

FIFA officially opened its second regional development office in Africa. The new office in Johannesburg is providing dedicated assistance and support to member associations in the successful delivery of the FIFA Forward program on the content (FIFA).