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FC Barcelona signs future superstar Lionel Messi, currently a 13-year-old schoolboy, from Newell’s Old Boys, a football club based in Rosario, Argentina. Messi has growth hormone deficiency; due to Argentina’s economic crisis, neither the country’s government nor Newell’s Old Boys can afford to pay for his treatment. Barcelona offers to pay for the medicine, which the club’s doctors deem necessary. The signing is made by Carles Rexach, Barcelona’s sporting director, when Messi does well after being flown to Spain for a trial. [Daily Telegraph, 4/28/2009]

Entity Tags: Club Atlético Newell’s Old Boys, FC Barcelona, Carles Rexach, Lionel Messi

Category Tags: Transfers of Young Players, Spain

The Spanish football club Real Madrid sells its training ground to the city council for €480m to wipe out a €290m debt. Under the agreement, the football club will relocate to a new training complex on the outskirts of the city by 2004. The council plans to construct four huge office blocks on the site of the current training ground, as well as a new 20,000-capacity sports pavilion for the city’s 2012 Olympic bid. Real president Florentino Perez says the deal will lift a major burden that has been hanging over the club. “I have been working for this from the very day I became president,” says Perez. “This is very important for Real Madrid because we have removed a terrible burden and will soon have a new training ground which will be even better than AC Milan’s Milanello training complex. From now on we can live without anxiety or financial difficulties. Real Madrid has not only to be a sporting leader, it must also be a financial leader too.” [BreakingNews(.ie), 5/8/2001] Real will use the proceeds of the sale to buy top players such as Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Ronaldo, and David Beckham, but the transaction will be investigated by the EU (see March 3, 2004). However, Real will not be forced to repay any of the money (see (November 9, 2004)).

Entity Tags: Florentino Perez Rodriguez, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol

Category Tags: Spain, Debt/Losses

FIFA executive committee member Julio Grondona, an Argentinian, makes disparaging remarks about Jews’ ability to referee football games. He comments, “I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at that level [the Argentinian first division] because it’s hard work and, you know, Jews don’t like hard work.” Grondona will not lose his position at FIFA, but will later become senior vice president of the organization. [Observer, 11/28/2010]

Entity Tags: International Federation of Association Football, Julio Grondona

Category Tags: Miscellaneous

Chelsea FC owner Ken Bates agrees to sell the club to Russian oil and aluminum mogul Roman Abramovich for £140m. £80m of the money will be spent paying down debts Chelsea has recently accrued. £59.3m will be used to buy shares in the parent company, Chelsea Village, which are valued at a mere 35p each. Bates bought the club for £1 in 1982. The deal is the biggest in British football history. A statement issued for Abramovich pledges that he will invest in the team. [BBC, 7/2/2003]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Roman Abramovich, Ken Bates

Category Tags: England, Club Ownership

Cesc Fabregas, who will go on to captain Arsenal for a number of years, joins the club from Barcelona’s youth team. He is 16 years old. [Arsenal, 2010] Fabregas is one of several Spanish players who leave their native country to join English football clubs at a young age; the moves are because English employment law allows 16-year-olds to sign contracts, whereas in Spain players can only sign when they are older (see October 10, 2007 and February 23, 2011).

Entity Tags: Arsenal F.C., FC Barcelona, Francesc Fabregas i Soler

Category Tags: England, Transfers of Young Players, Spain

Jaroslav Hastik, sports director at first division Czech football club Synot, calls referee Vaclav Zejda to offer him a bribe to influence today’s game between Synot and Blsany. Zejda agrees to take CZK 120,000 (approx. £2,000) to help Synot win the game, and to share the money with other officials. The telephone call is monitored by the police, who are aware that Hastik is corrupt. Zejda then informs his assistant Bohuslav Kratky and the fourth official Josef Dvoracek of what is to happen, and Synot wins 3-1. [Mladá fronta Dnes, 5/14/2004] The police will also monitor the handing over of the bribe (see December 2, 2003).

Entity Tags: Jaroslav Hastik, Bohuslav Kratky, Josef Dvoracek, 1. FC Synot

Category Tags: Match Fixing, Czech Republic

The European Union announces it has begun a preliminary investigation into the sale of Real Madrid’s training ground to the city council in 2001 (see (May 8, 2001)). The sale netted €480m, which wiped out the football club’s €290m debt and enabled it to buy players such as Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, and David Beckham. “We believe Madrid’s regional authorities may have overpaid,” says Tilman Luder, the EU’s competition spokesman. He also warns that the club may have to pay back some money if the price exceeded the market value. “We have sent a questionnaire to the Spanish government: to find out why they bought this land, at what price, and if they can prove it was at the market price. We suspect that the purchase price was influenced by the fact that this property had been reclassified, which increased its value,” says Luder. If Spain’s response to the questionnaire is not satisfactory, the EU may launch a formal investigation. [Independent, 3/4/2010] The EU will later drop the matter (see (November 9, 2004)).

Entity Tags: Tilman Luder, Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, European Union

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, Spain

Jaroslav Hastík, sports director at the Czech first division football club Synot, enters the referees’ dressing room at half time in a league game between Synot and Sparta Prague. “If you help us keep the result the way it is, we’ll give you CZK 175,000,” (around £3,700) Hastik tells assistant referee Stanislav Hruska. Hruska agrees to take the bribe and Synot go on to win the game. However, the dressing room is bugged by the police, and Hastik and Hruska will be arrested as the money is being handed over (see April 20, 2004). [Mladá fronta Dnes, 5/14/2004]

Entity Tags: Stanislav Hruska, AC Sparta Praha, 1. FC Synot, Jaroslav Hastik

Category Tags: Match Fixing, Czech Republic

Czech police arrest Jaroslav Hastik, the sports director of first division club Synot, and Stanislav Hruska, an assistant referee, on corruption charges. The arrest is made late at night at an Agip gas station near the town of Vyskov, as Hastik is about to hand over a CZK 175,000 bribe to Hruska for fixing the outcome of a game between Synot and Sparta Prague (see March 27, 2004). [Mladá fronta Dnes, 5/14/2004]

Entity Tags: 1. FC Synot, Stanislav Hruska, Jaroslav Hastik

Category Tags: Match Fixing, Czech Republic

The European Union drops a competition probe into a transaction in which football club Real Madrid received hundreds of millions of Euros from the Madrid city council in return for its training ground (see (May 8, 2001) and March 3, 2004). The commission concludes that no state aid for Real was involved in the transaction and no government resources were transferred to it. [Sports Illustrated, 11/9/2004]

Entity Tags: Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, European Union

Category Tags: Spain, Debt/Losses

Serbian-American businessman Milan Mandaric sells Portsmouth FC to Franco-Russian businessman Alexandre Gaydamak for £32 million. [London Times, 9/15/2008; Daily Mail, 9/23/2008] The sale will later become controversial as speculation appears suggesting that Gaydamak’s father Arkadi, wanted for questioning in France over gunrunning during the Angolan Civil War, is the real owner. [Daily Mail, 9/23/2008]

Entity Tags: Milan Mandaric, Alexandre Gaydamak, Portsmouth F.C., Arkadi Gaydamak

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Randy Lerner, the American owner-in-waiting of Aston Villa, increases his potential shareholding in the football club to 85.5 percent. Lerner was set to own 59.69 percent of the club after his conditional £62.2m takeover offer in August, and now seems likely to take full control. However, he must still reach 90 percent stakeholder support by 18 September, until which time Villa’s existing board of directors remains in place. [BBC, 9/5/2006]

Entity Tags: Aston Villa, Randolph D. (“Randy”) Lerner

Category Tags: Club Ownership

Chelsea announces the club lost £80.2m in the 2005-06 season. The loss is far less than the season before, when it was around £140m, but is still the third largest loss in the history of English football. Total losses over the three years since Roman Abramovich bought the club now exceed £300m. [Reuters, 2/19/2007] Chelsea turned over €221m in the 2005-06 season (see February 2007).

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

David Dein leaves Arsenal’s board of directors over a dispute on the football club’s future direction. Dein, who owns 14.5 percent of shares, wants US investor Stanley Kroenke to take control of the club, but this proposal does not find sufficient support among the other board members, and Dein departs. [BBC, 8/31/2007]

Entity Tags: Arsenal F.C., Stanley Kroenke, David Dein

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Leeds United enters administration due to debts of £35m that it cannot pay. In return, the Football League imposes a 10-point penalty on the club. Before the points deduction, it was all but mathematically certain that Leeds would be relegated from the Championship to the third tier of English football, as the club required a series of freak results on the last day of the season to stay up. However, relegation to League One is now a mathematical certainty. Had Leeds gone into administration after the last game of the season, the penalty would have been applied at the start of the next term. The auditing firm KPMG is appointed Leeds’ administrators and immediately agrees to sell the club back to chairman Ken Bates without the debt burden. The Independent writes of the administration and sale, “in effect Leeds could wipe out most of their £35m debt at a stroke, and suffer no meaningful penalty.” [Independent, 5/5/2007] However, due to a breach of league rules governing the conduct of the administration, the club will be deducted a further 15 points at the start of next season (see August 3, 2007).

Entity Tags: KPMG, Ken Bates, Leeds United F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra loges a £81.6m formal takeover bid for football club Manchester City. The offer is made through a company called UK Sports Investments, a vehicle indirectly controlled by Shinawatra, his son, and his daughter. [BBC, 6/21/2007] Since he was overthrown by a military coup last September, Shinawatra has been dogged by allegations covering assorted instances of corruption, human rights abuses, and running death squads as a part of his government’s war on drugs. [Daily Mail, 6/22/2007] Thai prosecutors have already filed corruption charges and frozen some of his assets. [BBC, 6/21/2007]

Entity Tags: Manchester City F.C., Thaksin Shinawatra, UK Sports Investments

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra completes his takeover of Manchester City. Shinawatra, who was allegedly involved in corruption, human rights abuses, and death squads in his native Thailand, made a formal offer the previous month (see June 21, 2007). Shinawatra now owns 74.03 percent of shares through his UK Sports Investments vehicle, very close to the 75 percent he needs to take the football club off the stock market. The previous shareholders, including former chairman Francis Lee and the Rupert Murdoch-controlled BSkyB, were wary of selling to Shinawatra because of the allegations against him, but have been reassured. The only bar to Shinawatra assuming full control of the club is that he now has to pass the Premier League’s “fit and proper person” test (see Shortly After July 6, 2007). [BBC, 7/6/2007]

Entity Tags: Francis Lee, British Sky Broadcasting Group, Thaksin Shinawatra, UK Sports Investments, Manchester City F.C.

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra passes the Premier League’s “fit and proper person” test and receives the green light to take full control of football club Manchester City. Shinawatra has already purchased a majority of shares (see July 6, 2007) and this is the last hurdle his takeover has to cross. Allegations that Shinawatra was involved in various instances of corruption, human rights abuses, and death squads (see June 21, 2007) apparently do not prevent him from passing the test. On July 11, one civil servant at the Foreign Office (FCO) will send an e-mail, later obtained by the Telegraph by Freedom of Information Act request, saying that the Premier League thinks that Shinawatra would probably pass the test on that day, and asking if the FCO has any information it could share on him. The FCO also says that the League never follows up on the request, although the League comments: “What we were told by the government was, as these were only allegations, they could offer no comment or advice that was not already in the public domain. Had they offered any form of briefing we would, of course, have accepted.” [Daily Telegraph, 3/13/2008]

Entity Tags: Thaksin Shinawatra, Manchester City F.C., Premier League, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Category Tags: England, Club Ownership

Alisher Usmanov, a Uzbek-Russian businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007), becomes a leading shareholder in Arsenal. Together with his associate Farhad Moshiri, a London-based Iranian, Usmanov purchases a 14.5 percent interest in the football club through the company Red & White Holdings for £75m. The stake is purchased from David Dein, who left the club’s board in April when he fell out with other directors over the lack of foreign investment in Arsenal (see April 2007). Dein was previously close to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now reported to approve of the transaction. The deal makes Red & White Holdings the third largest shareholder in Arsenal, behind Danny Fiszman (24.11 percent) and Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.9 percent). The US businessman Stan Kroenke holds 12.9 percent; nobody else has more than 5 percent. [BBC, 8/31/2007]

Entity Tags: David Dein, Danny Fiszman, Stanley Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov, Farhad Moshiri, Nina Bracewell-Smith, Red & White Holdings

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray accuses new Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007) of a string of crimes in a piece posted to his blog. [Craig Murray, 9/2/2007] Murray learned of Uzbek affairs during his time as ambassador in 2002-2004, but was removed from his position under a cloud after he complained too loudly about the use of torture in the “war on terror.” [Grey, 2007, pp. 152-169] In a no-holds-barred post entitled “Alisher Usmanov, Potential Arsenal Chairman, is a Vicious Thug, Criminal, Racketeer, Heroin Trafficker, and Accused Rapist,” Murray sets out Usmanov’s many alleged sins, including his activities as an underworld boss, influence peddling with Uzbekistan’s ruling clan, bribery, and a “particularly atrocious rape.” [Craig Murray, 9/2/2007]

Entity Tags: Craig Murray, Alisher Usmanov

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek-Russian businessman who has just purchased an interest in the London football club Arsenal (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), uses the law firm Schillings to shut down discussion of his controversial past on the Internet. Shortly after Usmanov became an Arsenal shareholder, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray published a blog post saying that Usmanov had committed numerous crimes (see September 2, 2007). Schillings now contacts several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs to make them remove postings referencing Murray’s allegations. The law firm tells them that repeating the allegations is “false, indefensible, and grossly defamatory.” Most sites comply. Although Schillings forces Murray’s webhost to remove the post, it does not contact Murray himself. [Guardian, 9/13/2007]

Entity Tags: Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal F.C., Craig Murray, Schillings

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov temporarily shuts down the website of Boris Johnson, the Conservative candidate for major of London, in a dispute between Usmanov and former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray. Usmanov has numerous other websites shut down as well. Following the purchase of an interest in Arsenal by Usmanov, an Uzbek-Russian businessman (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), Murray made numerous allegations against him (see September 2, 2007), and Usmanov used the law firm Schillings in an attempt to shut down discussion of them on the Internet (see Shortly After September 2, 2007). Schillings now pressures Murray’s webhost, Fasthosts Internet, to act against Murray, and it responds by cutting off services to Murray and numerous other bloggers who simply share some technical services with him, even though they had not written about Usmanov or been the subject of a complaint by him. Johnson calls the action “a serious erosion of free speech,” adding: “This is London, not Uzbekistan.… It is unbelievable that a website can be wiped out on the say-so of some tycoon. We live in a world where Internet communication is increasingly vital, and this is a serious erosion of free speech.” Bob Piper, another affected blogger and local Labour Party politician in Birmingham, calls the situation “outrageous.” [Guardian, 9/20/2007]

Entity Tags: Craig Murray, Alisher Usmanov, Boris Johnson, Fasthosts Internet Ltd, Arsenal F.C., Robert Piper, Schillings

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

FC Barcelona wins a £2.1 million lawsuit against Fran Merida, a player who left the football club when he was 16, later joining Arsenal FC. Merida is found not to have honored a pre-contractual agreement he had with the Catalan giants. Spanish clubs cannot sign youth players until they are 18, whereas clubs in England can sign 16-year-olds under British law, meaning that some Spanish players sign for English clubs on turning 16. [Daily Telegraph, 10/11/2007] Arsenal will decide not to appeal the ruling and pay the fine for Merida. Reportedly, this decision is taken to improve relations between the two clubs, which have been poor since a similar problem with Cesc Fabregas’s move to London in 2003. [Daily Mail, 10/31/2009]

Entity Tags: FC Barcelona, Arsenal F.C., Fran Merida

Category Tags: Transfers of Young Players, England, Spain

Chelsea announces a loss of £74.8m for the 2007-08 football season. The figures show a 25 percent increase in turnover, to £190.5m, making the club second only to Manchester United in the Premier League, but the loss fell by only 7 percent compared to the previous season (see February 19, 2007). Chief executive Peter Kenyon allows that the club’s aim of breaking even by 2010 is “ambitious,” but adds: “I don’t think it’s something we are postponing, but it’s always been ambitious. We are determined to meet it, or get as close as we can.” [Guardian, 2/22/2008] The club will actually make a loss of over £70m in the 2009-10 season (see January 31, 2011).

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Peter Kenyon

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Alisher Usmanov, a Uzbek-Russian businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007) who now owns a 24 percent stake in Arsenal (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007), says he only plans to increase his interest by a small amount. According to Usmanov, the investment vehicle Red & White Holdings, of which he is a co-owner, wants a blocking stake in the football club, which would be 25 percent plus one share. This would give it a veto on major club issues. [Reuters, 2/27/2008]

Entity Tags: Alisher Usmanov, Red & White Holdings, Arsenal F.C.

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

UEFA’s control and disciplinary body rules that the Portuguese champions FC Porto will not be admitted to the Champions League next season, due to allegations of bribery of referees in Portuguese domestic matches in 2003/04. In two cases, the Portuguese champions were recently deducted a total of six points and fined €150,000 by the Portuguese league’s disciplinary committee. Under UEFA rules, clubs may not be involved in any activity aimed at arranging or influencing the outcome of a match at national or international level, otherwise they will not be allowed into European competition. [UEFA, 6/4/2008]

Entity Tags: Futebol Clube do Porto, Union of European Football Associations

Category Tags: Match Fixing, UEFA

An Israeli newspaper publishes a list of the assets of fugitive gun runner Arkadi Gaydamak indicating that they include Portsmouth FC. The claim is made in an article called “Look What I’ve Got,” published by the tabloid Yedioth Ahronot. [London Times, 9/15/2008] The asset listing includes “Soccer Abroad: Portsmouth FC, in England’s top league… managed by Gaydamak’s son, Sacha [Alexandre].” [Guardian, 9/23/2008] The article’s publication follows claims that Arkadi is in financial difficulties and is to show that his position remains strong. Previously, the football club reported it was owned by Arkadi’s son, Alexandre. The difference is significant because Arkadi may not pass the Premier League’s “fit and proper persons” test due to the warrant for his arrest on gunrunning charges. [London Times, 9/15/2008] The league will commence an investigation into the claims (see September 22, 2008), but drop it when Portsmouth assures it Alexandre is the real owner (see September 23, 2008).

Entity Tags: Portsmouth F.C., Alexandre Gaydamak, Arkadi Gaydamak

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

The Premier League launches an investigation into the ownership of Portsmouth FC. The investigation is spurred by an Israeli newspaper article that lists the assets of fugitive Russian-Israeli arms dealer Arkadi Gaydamak, which the paper says include Portsmouth (see (September 8, 2008)). Portsmouth says it is owned by Arkadi’s son Alexandre. The difference is important because Arkadi is wanted in France on gunrunning charges, meaning he may not pass the league’s “fit and proper persons” test for football club owners. [Guardian, 9/23/2008] Portsmouth will soon repeat that Alexandre is the real owner, satisfying the league (see September 23, 2008).

Entity Tags: Portsmouth F.C., Arkadi Gaydamak, Premier League, Alexandre Gaydamak

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

The Premier League announces it is satisfied that Portsmouth FC is not owned by fugitive gun runner Arkadi Gaydamak, but by his son Alexandre. The league had launched an inquiry into the ownership of Portsmouth after a list of Arkadi’s assets—including Portsmouth—appeared in the Israeli press (see (September 8, 2008) and September 22, 2008). As Arkadi is a fugitive from French authorities over gun running charges, he may not pass the Premier League’s “fit and proper persons” test for football club owners. Following the list’s publication, the league contacted Portsmouth to ask who really owned it, and Portsmouth said it was owned by Alexandre, satisfying the league. [Daily Mail, 9/23/2008]

Entity Tags: Alexandre Gaydamak, Arkadi Gaydamak, Portsmouth F.C., Premier League

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Leeds United chairman Ken Bates falsely claims to the Royal Court of Jersey that he jointly owns Forward Sports Fund, the company that owns Leeds. According to Bates, there are two “management shares” in Forward; he has one, whereas the other is held by his financial advisor Patrick Murrin, who is based in the offshore tax haven of Guernsey. Forward is registered in the Cayman Islands, another tax haven. However, it will later emerge that the two “management shares” do not entail ownership of Forward, and Bates does not hold either of them (Murrin has one, and Peter Boatman, a Geneva-based administrator, has the other). Forward is actually owned by the holders of 10,000 shares in it. Bates will correct this statement later in the year, calling it an “error.” It is unclear how Bates, an experienced businessman, came to believe he was the part-owner of a business worth several million pounds, when he apparently has no interest in it. [Guardian, 9/30/2009]

Entity Tags: Leeds United F.C., Ken Bates, Patrick Murrin, Forward Sports Fund, Peter Boatman

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic confirms a CZK 70,000 (approx. €3,000) fine imposed on corrupt football referee Lubomir Pucek for helping fix a match in the Slovak league between Banska Bystrica and Puchov in 2003. Pucek was found guilty of discussing a bribe with another official over the telephone by a district court, and the verdict has already been confirmed by a regional court. However, Pucek appealed a second time on the grounds that courts have no business fining football referees for corruption, as this was a private matter. The Constitutional Court is of another opinion. “Football competitions should be regarded as a society-wide phenomenon and this fact should be given expresion in the form of an interest in their fairness and proper conduct, excluding the intentional influencing of match results,” says the Constitutional Court. Before his fall, Pucek won the Crystal Whistle for the Czech league’s best referee five times. [Mladá fronta DNES, 1/12/2009]

Entity Tags: Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, Lubomir Pucek

Category Tags: Match Fixing, Czech Republic

Chelsea announces that the club lost £65.7m in the 2007-08 football season, down from the £74m lost the previous season. The club generated revenues of €268.9m in the 2007-2008 season (see February 2009). Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon says, “There is no doubt that the positive upward trends of turnover and the continued reduction in losses shows that Chelsea is building a strong business base to build on in what will be challenging times.” [BBC, 2/13/2009]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Peter Kenyon

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek businessman of dubious repute (see September 2, 2007), increases his interest in Arsenal, an English Premier League football club in North London. Red & White Holdings, of which Usmanov is a co-owner, raises its shareholding to 25 percent, which gives it a veto over major decisions. The company, run by former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein, first bought an interest in Arsenal in 2007 (see Shortly Before August 31, 2007). Red & White Holdings is now the largest shareholder in Arsenal, followed by Danny Fiszman (24.11 percent), Nina Bracewell-Smith (15.9 percent), and Stan Kroenke (12.4 percent). Shares in Arsenal are currently changing hands for around £7,500, down from their peak of around £10,500 a year and a half ago. If Usmanov’s interest reaches 30 percent, he will be mandated to launch a takeover bid under Stock Exchange rules. [Times (London), 2/17/2009]

Entity Tags: Danny Fiszman, Arsenal F.C., Stanley Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov, David Dein, Nina Bracewell-Smith, Red & White Holdings

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Arsenal’s board of directors turns down a proposal that the football club raise capital by means of a rights issue. The suggestion was put forward by Red & White Holdings, an investment vehicle co-owned by the controversial Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov (see September 2, 2007). Under the plan, all shareholders would be invited to subscribe new shares, but if one or more did not exercise this right, the additional shares would be offered to the other shareholders. Red & White Holdings says that the extra money would be used to repay some of the club’s debt and to finance additional signings of established players. However, club officials suspect this is a ploy to allow Usmanov to increase his stake. In addition, they say the debt is manageable and that they prefer to sign young players, who are cheaper. [Guardian, 7/8/2009]

Entity Tags: Alisher Usmanov, Red & White Holdings, Arsenal F.C.

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Leeds United bans all Guardian reporters from its stadium, Elland Road. The ban is in response to a series of articles written by Guardian columnist David Conn about the mystery of who actually owns Leeds. [Guardian, 10/19/2009] For example, three weeks previously Conn published an article highlighting the fact that the club’s chairman, the controversial Ken Bates, had falsely claimed to own the club (see January 2009). Leeds is owned by Forward Sports Fund, a company registered in the Cayman Islands and administered by the Geneva-based Chateau Fiduciaire. However, the public does not know who owns Forward Sports Fund. According to Conn, the question of Forward’s ownership is important because of the role it played in the club’s insolvency in 2007. [Guardian, 9/30/2009]

Entity Tags: Leeds United F.C., Ken Bates, Forward Sports Fund, Chateau Fiduciaire, The Guardian, David Conn

Timeline Tags: Domestic Propaganda

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

The controversial Russian-Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov (see September 2, 2007) increases his stake in English football club Arsenal. The shareholding is held by the investment vehicle Red & White Holdings, of which Usmanov is co-owner, and is now just over 26 percent. This makes Usmanov’s company the second largest shareholder in Arsenal, behind US businessman Stan Kroenke, who now has 29.9 percent. [BBC, 12/11/2009]

Entity Tags: Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal F.C., Red & White Holdings, Stanley Kroenke

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Chelsea announces that the club made a loss of £44m the previous season. This is the smallest loss since the football club was taken over by Roman Abramovich in 2003 and was achieved despite a fall in turnover from £213.1m to £206.4m. Chief executive Ron Gourlay comments, “It is still our aim to be self-sufficient and we will achieve this by increasing our revenues as we continue to leverage off our brand.” [Guardian, 12/30/2009]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C., Ron Gourlay

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

FC Moscow withdraws from the Russian first division just over one month before the football season begins. The withdrawal is announced by Sports Projects, a subsidiary of the club’s owners Norilsk Nickel. The reasons given for the withdrawal are that the parent company’s operations are based in other parts of Russia and support from Moscow city council is not forthcoming. FC Moscow was an offshoot of the famous FC Torpedo Moscow club and was founded in 1997. The club’s place in the league is to be taken by Alania Vladikavkaz. [CNN, 2/5/2010]

Entity Tags: Alania Vladikavkaz, Norilsk Nickel, FC Moscow

Category Tags: Debt/Losses

The Premier League deducts nine points from Portsmouth because the club, which is insolvent, is to go into administration. Portsmouth previously had 19 points, but now has only 10, 14 less than 19th-placed Hull. The deduction therefore virtually guarantees that Portsmouth will be one of the three teams relegated to the second tier of English football when the season ends in two months’ time. A Premier League statement says, “Following the High Court’s decision that Portsmouth FC’s administration is valid, the Premier League board convened today to apply the League’s rules and policies in relation to a member club suffering an event of insolvency.” Portsmouth’s debts are said to be around £65m. [Daily Telegraph, 3/17/2010]

Entity Tags: Portsmouth F.C., Premier League

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Lord Triesman, the chairman of the English FA and 2018 World Cup bid, makes several allegations about corruption and bad practice in football over lunch with a former lover. The woman, Melissa Jacobs, records the conversation and will later provide it to the Mail on Sunday for publication. Triesman, a former government minister and member of the House of Lords, says that there is “some evidence” Spain and Russia may collude over the forthcoming World Cup in South Africa and their bids to host the 2018 event—according to him, in return for Russia helping bribe referees in the current tournament, Spain will withdraw its offer to host the later tournament, leaving the way clear for Russia to win. Triesman also claims that one Latin American football administrator wants an honorary knighthood from the Queen in order to vote for England. In addition, Triesman is dismissive of the Premier League’s fit and proper persons test for club owners, pointing out that, given the way it is designed, notorious Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugage would pass the test, whereas Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela would not. [Daily Mail, 5/17/2011] After the Mail on Sunday publishes the allegations, Triesman will resign from both his positions (see May 16, 2010).

Entity Tags: David Triesman, Melissa Jacobs, Nicolas Leoz

Category Tags: Match Fixing, FIFA

University of Barcelona professor Jose Maria Gay publishes a report into the finances of Spanish football clubs. The report paints a grim picture, showing that the 20 La Liga clubs owed a total of €3.5bn in the 2008-2009 season, a €40m increase from the previous term. The report also shows the slowing pace of revenue growth in 2008-2009—down from 10 percent to 4 percent—and total expenses of €1.7bn, up €249m. Salary costs, in particular player wages, accounted for 85 percent of turnover. [Forbes, 5/19/2010]

Entity Tags: Jose Maria Gay

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, Spain

Real Mallorca, which finished fifth in the recently concluded La Liga season, applies to go into bankruptcy administration. The club has a debt of €85m (US$103m). Majority shareholder Mateu Alemany comments: “Over the past two years, Mallorca has suffered a very complex economic situation, with serious financial problems and an inability to meet its commitments. This is a legal instrument that enables Mallorca to see the future in another way—to have a budget structure that has logic and controls debt, to take stringent budgetary measures to bring spending in line with earning capacity.” According to a recently published report into Spanish football finances (see May 18, 2010), Mallorca made a loss of €5.2m for the 2008-2009 season, on revenues of €28.1m. Its playing staff budget for the 2009-2010 season was €34.6m. [Forbes, 5/19/2010]

Entity Tags: Mateu Alemany, Real Mallorca

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, Spain

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family, agrees to buy a majority stake in Malaga football club for €36m from current president Fernando Sanz. “The agreement has already been notified to the Spanish Sports Council and will be completed shortly, given that said public body has provided its verbal approval of the agreement’s terms and conditions,” says the club. Al-Thani, who will also assume the club’s debt, is extremely wealthy and manages a business empire based in the United Arab Emirates, which employs around 3,000 people and operates in more than 30 countries. His interests include hotel chains, shopping centres, mobile phone companies, car dealerships, and a bank. Malaga’s highest ever finish in the Spanish top flight is seventh, and they have been relegated to the second tier frequently. They recently finished 17th out of 20 clubs in Spain’s Premiera Division. Al-Thani comments, “Our goal is to help Malaga take the necessary steps to consolidate its presence in La Liga and to reinforce the excitement and hopes of the supporters.” [Reuters, 6/26/2011]

Entity Tags: Malaga Club de Futbol, Fernando Sanz, Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thani

Category Tags: Club Ownership, Spain

FC Barcelona takes out a €150m loan to cover the football club’s expenses. The need for the loan was announced a week before it was taken out, when newly elected club president Sandro Rosell said the loan was to pay wages for players, coaching staff, and other employees. The loan is provided by a group of Spanish banks headed by Santander and La Caixa. [Press Association (London), 7/14/2010]

Entity Tags: Banco Santander, FC Barcelona, La Caixa, Sandro Rosell

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, Spain

UEFA bans the Spanish football club Real Mallorca from European competition because it is not in compliance with its financial regulations. Mallorca has had a successful season and qualified for the Europa League, but went into administration in May (see (May 19, 2010)). Villareal is set to take Mallorca’s place in the competition if an appeal is unsuccessful. [Sport Business, 7/23/2010]

Entity Tags: Real Mallorca, Union of European Football Associations

Category Tags: UEFA, Debt/Losses, Spain

Real Mallorca appeals to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to reverse a recent decision banning the club from next season’s Europa League. The club was banned from European competition (see (July 22, 2010)) because it is currently in administration and not in compliance with UEFA’s financial guidelines (see (May 19, 2010)). At the same time as the appeal, Mallorca issues a statement pointing out that the ban will make its financial situation worse, as it would deprive the club “of a series of revenue in different concepts, such as ticketing, sponsorship, and income from the competition.” It adds, “Ethically and legally, RCD Mallorca believes reason is on their side and [the club] will not relent in the effort to show that he has earned the right to challenge the Europa League.” [Goal, 7/26/2010]

Entity Tags: Real Mallorca, Union of European Football Associations

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, UEFA, Spain

UEFA upholds a decision banning Spanish football team Real Mallorca from European competition (see (May 19, 2010), (July 22, 2010), and July 26, 2010). “At its meeting on July 14, 2010, the club financial control panel unanimously concluded that the licence had not been correctly awarded to RCD Mallorca and that the club did not sufficiently fulfil its financial obligations,” says UEFA of the reason for the ban. Mallorca indicates that it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [AFP, 7/30/2010]

Entity Tags: Real Mallorca, Union of European Football Associations

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, UEFA, Italy

Arsenal announces record pre-tax profits of £56m for the 2009-2010 season, although a large amount of the club’s revenues was generated by the club’s property development side. Turnover increased to a record £379.9m from £313.3m, although the club’s overall turnover from its football business was marginally down, owing to five fewer home cup matches, as well as reduced income from merchandising and catering. The wage bill increased from £104m to £110.7m and is now around 50 per cent of non-property income. The club says that the business’s property arm, the Highbury Square development, is debt free and making money. The sale of 362 apartments at Highbury Square and the social housing at Queensland Road, developments that were part of the recent move to a new stadium, generated revenues of £156.9m and allowed Arsenal to repay in full the £129.6m in bank loans taken to fund the construction. The group’s overall net debt was reduced from £297.7m to £135.6m. [Guardian, 9/24/2010] Arsenal is one of only four Premier League clubs to make a profit for the 2009-2010 season, when the clubs’ losses totalled £484m. [Guardian, 5/19/2011]

Entity Tags: Arsenal F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses

Manchester United announces a record operating profit of over £100m for the 2009-2010 football season, but it is more than offset by loans taken on when the club was purchased by the Glazer family. The record profit was helped by increases in commercial, broadcasting, and matchday revenues, the later boosted by increased ticket prices. Nevertheless, the club made a huge overall loss due to interest repayments and one-off costs related to a £509m bond issue. In addition to the bonds, the club also has to service £225m in payment in kind loans, currently bearing interest at 16.25 per cent. The overall result was also harmed by a £40.6m write-down on an interest rate swap that had to be paid when the club launched its bond offer at the beginning of the year, as well as £19m lost on fluctuating exchange rates. [Guardian, 10/8/2010]

Entity Tags: Manchester United F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

FC Barcelona president Sandro Rosell announces that in the previous season the football club made a record loss of €79.6m and that its debt has climbed to €430m. Rosell also proposes that the club file suit against previous president Joan Laporta over dubious bookkeeping practices, a proposal that is approved by a narrow majority at the general assembly of club’s members. According to Rosell, when he took over from Laporta (see June 13, 2010), he had the club’s books checked by outside auditors. The results of the audit led him to propose the action against Laporta, with whom he has been in conflict for several years. [DPA, 10/16/2010]

Entity Tags: FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, Joan Laporta

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, Spain

Chelsea announces a huge loss of £70.9m for the 2009-2010 football season, in which the club won the league and cup double. In the previous season the loss had been £44.4m (see December 30, 2009), although in the two years before that it was around £70m. Chelsea blames the loss on the amortization of player transfer fees, which means how much a player’s value in the accounts decreases over the length of his contract. Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck describes the results as “significant progress,” and cites what the club calls a “net cash inflow of £3.8m” as evidence. Buck says, “That the club was cash generative in the year when we recorded a historic Premier League and FA Cup double is a great encouragement and demonstrates significant progress as regards our financial results.” The same day as the loss is announced, Chelsea pays Liverpool a record £48m for Spanish striker Fernando Torres. [Independent, 2/1/2011]

Entity Tags: Bruce Buck, Chelsea F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Sunderland announces that the club lost £27.9m for the 2009-10 football season, £1.4m more than it lost the previous term. The club turned over £65.4m, compared to £64.6m the previous season, so the loss is equivalent to almost 40 percent of turnover. The main cost item was player wages, which were £46.63m, having increased by £2.5m from the previous season. Matchday revenue fell by over a million pounds to £12.6m, whereas television and media payments increased by almost £4m. [Press Association (London), 2/15/2011]

Entity Tags: Sunderland A.F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

Arsenal FC signs Jon Miquel Toral Harper from Barcelona, a couple of weeks after his 16th birthday. Due to different employment laws in Spain and Britain, Arsenal can offer Toral a professional contract, although FC Barcelona cannot yet do so and cannot stop him from going to England. Toral is not the first 16-year-old to leave Barcelona for Arsenal; the best-known such transfer was that of current Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, who left Catalonia for London in 2003, when he was also 16. Barcelona president Sandro Rosell expresses the Catalans’ displeasure over the deal, calling it “legal but a little immoral.” [Guardian, 2/24/2011]

Entity Tags: FC Barcelona, Jon Miquel Toral Harper, Arsenal F.C., Sandro Rosell

Category Tags: Transfers of Young Players

Manchester United’s parent company, Red Football Joint Venture Ltd, announces a record pre-tax loss of £109m for the financial year ending June 2010. This means the company lost an additional £29m on top of the £80m pre-tax loss posted for the same period by Red Football Limited, the football club’s immediate holding company, in October. Most of the additional £29m is interest on the club’s payment-in-kind loans, which were £233m in June, although this form of debt has since been cleared in murky circumstances. The business is not concerned by the loss, saying that the club itself is making more money, in particular due to increased commercial revenue. The total borrowings of Red Football Joint Venture Ltd at June 2010 stood at £522m, up from the 2009 figure of £514m. [Guardian, 3/22/2011]

Entity Tags: Manchester United F.C., Red Football Limited, Red Football Joint Venture Ltd.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England

The Qatari Investment Authority buys a 70 percent stake in the leading French club Paris St. Germain. The club’s former controlling investor, the US Colony Capital group, retains an interest of nearly 30 percent. The takeover comes after PSG finished fourth in Ligue 1—their highest placing since 2004—and reached the French cup final. [ESPN, 5/31/2011] The investment will be operated by Qatar Sports Investments, an arm of the new owners. [Guardian, 11/22/2011]

Entity Tags: Qatar Sports Investments, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, Qatari Investment Authority, Colony Capital

Category Tags: Club Ownership

Owners of English Premier League teams from the US and Asia want to end promotion to and relegation from the English Premier League, according to League Managers’ Association chief executive Richard Bevan. Five English clubs are owned by Americans (Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa, and Sunderland), and Manchester City, Chelsea, and Blackburn are also owned by foreigners. “There are a number of overseas-owned clubs already talking about bringing about the avoidance of promotion and relegation in the Premier League. If we have four or five more new owners, that could happen,” says Bevan, speaking at the Professional Players Federation conference in London. “You’ll find that with American owners and you’ll find that with some of the Asian owners as well. If you look at sport all around the world and you look at sport owners trying to work out how to invest and make money, you’ll find that most of them like the idea of franchises. If you take, particularly, American owners, without doubt there have been a number of them looking at possibly having more of a franchise situation. That would mean no promotion or relegation. That would obviously not be good news for English football.” According to Bevan the solution is, “You need to make sure that the FA is strong enough to ensure that the principles on which our clubs are run, if I’m an owner coming in, I must recognise and embrace the history, the tradition, the supporters, the community, the philosophy of actually how this club should be operating and not deciding my club should be taken abroad or whatever.” According to the Press Association, such an outcome is unlikely, because, “Even if a two-thirds majority of Premier League clubs voted in favour of abolishing relegation, the move would still be unlikely to come about as the league’s own rules dictate it would also require approval from the FA, which would expect to hear widespread opposition from the rest of the game.” [Press Association (London), 10/17/2011]

Entity Tags: League Managers’ Association, Richard Bevan

Category Tags: Club Ownership, England

Chelsea announce a loss of £67.7m for the 2010-2011 season, slightly less than the previous one (see January 31, 2011). There was a modest increase in revenues to £222.3m from £205.8m, thanks to Champions League and television income. Wages were down by £4.4m on last year and operating expenses down by £7m. The accounts contain an extraordinary item of £28m relating to the replacement of manager Carlo Ancelotti with André Villas-Boas in the summer. This means that Chelsea’s manager replacement costs have been around £64m in the last four years. In addition, the accounts reveal Chelsea paid £6.4m to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to settle claims arising from a failed tax avoidance scheme that involved paying players not salary, but compensation for use of their image rights. The size and repeated nature of the loss means that Chelsea may have difficulty complying with UEFA’s financial fair play regulations, although the consequences of this are unclear. [Guardian, 2/8/2012]

Entity Tags: Chelsea F.C.

Category Tags: Debt/Losses, England


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