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European Leagues

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Chinese group buys AC Milan

The Chinese long march into European football continues with the acqusition of AC Milan from Silvio Berlusconi by a state-backed Chinese group.   Finnvest, the holding company controlled by Mr Berlusconi, has stated that it has signed a preliminary contract with a group of Chinese investors for a 99.93 per cent stake in AC Milan that valued the club at €740m including debts of €220m.

China to the rescue of Italian football

Italy has long been seen as the European nation that represents style, and that was also true of Italian football.  However, that image has been tarnished by decaying infrastructure in Italian cities and corruption ridden public services.  There seems to be no viable political solution.

At one time left-wing academics praised the Italian state holding enterprises that had been left over from Mussolini.   Then they discovered the 'Third Italy' of networked small firms producing luxury goods, but even that aspect of the economy was not quite what it appeared to be.

China plans breakaway Champions League

China's richest man is feeding on dissatisfaction among top clubs that a club like Manchester United can be denied the riches and prestige of the Champions League while Leicester City are given a place.  It does, of course, have something to do with performance on the pitch rather than financial rankings.

The background to the red card on Spanish football subsidies

It looks as if the days of dodgy deals in Spanish football are over following the European Commission investigation we reported on yesterday.    In particular, interest has focused on a land transfer between Real Madrid and the city administration.   A land swap in 2011 saw a plot of land with a supposed value of €598,000 in 1998 revalued at €22.7m.

Commission clamps down on Spanish practices

The European Commission has blown the whistle on Spanish football practices with a decision that will force Real Madrid and FC Barcelona to repay illegal state subsidies enjoyed for a quarter of a century. Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, has told Spain to recoup millions of euros of unlawful state aid to seven clubs that came in the form of soft loans, tax breaks and sweetheart property deals.

Big plans for Bangor City

A Cheshire-based consortium that has taken over Bangor City has big plans for the North Wales club, They plan to pump in at least £100,000 a year as they seek to end the domination of the Welsh Premier Leage by The New Sants.   The real attraction is perhaps not the WPL title, but the chance of Champions League football.

Bundesliga gets tv boost

The four year television rights auction for the Bundesliga generated €4.64bn (£3.63bn), an 85 per cent increase on the previous deal, making it the second wealthiest league in Europe.   It has lagged behind rivals in England, Italy and Spain in commercial terms.   It is still some way behind the Premier League which pocketed £5.1bn in a three year rights auction last year.

Footballers take top two places in sports rich list

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi take the top two places in the latest Forbes sport rich list, but they are the only two footballers in the top twenty.   The list is dominated by US sportsmen.   Ronaldo earned $56m in salary and a further $32m in endorsements over the past year.

Ronaldo has a sportswear sponsorship deal with Nike, which has launched a clothing brand called CR7, after his initials and shirt number, and he has signed partnerships with watchmaker Tag Heuer and nutriton supplements group Herbalife.

Chinese group takes majority stake in Inter Milan

Chinese appliance retailer Suning Commerce Group has agreed to pay €270m for a 70 per cent stake in Inter Milan.   The retailer is already active in domestic Chinese football.

Ex-owner , Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir, remains as president with a reduced stake of 31 per cent.   The club is thus entirely in foreign hands for the first time.

Barcelona are number one for sponsorship deals

Barcelona remain the world's number one club for sponsorship deals.   The club signed a new 10-year kit deal with Nike last month which is expected to bring in €150m-€155m each year, compared with the current €60m.   When it starts in 2018, it will be football's most lucrative kit deal ever, far outstripping Manchester United's £75m a year deal with Adidas.