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Volume 7 No. 149

Franchises

A Melbourne Cup-winning racehorse owner is "among the local businessmen financially backing" the new western Melbourne team entering the A-League next season, according to Bossi & Lynch of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Western Melbourne Group is financed by a local consortium of investors that is understood to include Aziz Kheir, the former owner of 2014 Melbourne Cup-winning horse Protectionist and last year's runner-up, Marmelo. It is understood Kheir's involvement with the team -- now named Western United Football Club -- is through his property development company, Resimax, which lists former Olympic Gold Medal pole vaulter Steve Hooker as its CEO. Resimax is understood to be one of the largest single backers of Western United, being the main commercial property partner of Jaszac Investment group. Jaszac and Resimax are "thought to be funding approximately three quarters of the project," which includes a self-funded stadium with a proposed capacity of 15,000 in Tarneit, with the land provided by Wyndham Council (SMH, 2/13).

It is "not just a new first-team manager" that ManU will be making a decision on this summer, according to Andy Mitten of ESPN.com. If Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keeps winning games, the club will not "have far to look." Yet the search for its first sporting director, someone independent of any manager, is "different and will be far from straightforward." For a start, ManU's eventual sporting director will not "be a buffer" between Exec Vice-Chair Ed Woodward and the manager, but "rather someone who will work alongside any manager and Woodward." Various names and options have been looked at internally and externally, though the sporting director is reportedly "unlikely to be Paul Mitchell, the Mancunian who was at Tottenham and who has been linked to the job." The club is "calm about the search" as it looks at what it wants from this position, one that, as Arsène Wenger pointed out last year, is "without any clear job description." ManU will look at how these operate at different clubs, as well as "what kinds of remits and roles they have" (ESPN.com, 2/13).

League Championship side Swansea City's "off-field problems continue to mount," with the club's Supporters Trust in dispute with those who sold their shares during the Swans' American takeover in '16, according to the BBC. At the time of the takeover, the Trust said that it was "disappointed" by a "lack of engagement" over the shares sale, contravening what it said was a shareholders agreement. Since then, Swansea has been "beset with off-field tensions" and, after last season's relegation from the Premier League, a "particularly turbulent" start to this year led to Chair Huw Jenkins' resignation earlier this month. The Trust had arranged for all parties -- including majority shareholders Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien -- to attend mediation to "avoid going to court over the dispute regarding the shares sale," and a date was set for February. Lawyers acting on behalf of the selling shareholders claimed the Trust withdrew from the mediation on two occasions -- but the Trust said that this is "patently untrue." Kaplan and Levien arranged for club Dir Robert Hernreich and Swans Dir of Business & Legal Affairs Samuel Porter to attend the mediation in their absence. The Trust statement said, "Although alternative attendees were suggested, a mediation is much less likely to be productive while the managing partners of the club's owners are not prepared to fully engage" (BBC, 2/13).