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European Leagues

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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.

Cost of kit and sponsorship deals rises rapidly

The cost of football kit and sponsorship deals has been rising rapidly.   Manchester United set the tone when it switched from Nike to Adidas kits in 2015, in a deal worth around £75m a year.  Barcelona did even better.   By extending its Nike kit deal last month, the club more than doubled its annual revenue from kit to €150m a year.

Row over future of Champions League

Europe's top clubs are pushing for radical changes to the Champions League in order to secure more funds to offset the financial dominance of the Premier League.    

Clubs particularly in Italy and Spain are pushing for changes that would involve more matches between top teams.   They argue that this could be more lucrative in terms of commercial and media revenue.

FC Twente to fight relegation punishment

FC Twente are to fight a decision to relegate them from the Dutch Eredivisie, which they won in 2010, to the second division for financial irregularities.   The decision stems from the sale of player transfer fee rights to outside investors.

The licensing commission could have revoked their right to play professional football altogether, but this would have been difficult with a well supported club.   However, relegation will strain their finances.

Warning signs of insolvency

Soccer economics guru Stefan Szymaski has been undertaking work on insolvency in football clubs.  In particular, he has been taking a look at the French leagues where a stringent regulatory system has been praised by the international football authorities.   However, it does not seem to make much difference in the incidence of insolvency compared with the English leagues.

What does seem to be a warning sign is if attendances fall away over a few years below what might be expected from league position.