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Gap Between Championship And Lower Leagues To Widen

The Championship will get a big boost next season from a new television contract, but the gap between it and the lower divisions of the Football League will widen. This may revive talk of a two division Premiership with no or limited promotion to the lower leagues. A new contract will increase the broadcasting income of the Football League from £32m a year at present to £88m. Under a long-established formula, Championship clubs will receive 80 per cent of the extra money from BSkyB and the BBC, but League One and Two will receive only 12 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

Pompey's New Stadium In Doubt

Portsmouth FC's ambition to move to a spectacular new waterside stadium could hit the rocks because of the club's need to include shops in the development. Bankers interested in financing the £100m scheme have told the club that there must be a significant retail element along the 36,000-seater ground and housing, or the necessary cash will not be available. With the credit crunch biting the club have changed their plans to include shops, a hotel and supermarket.

West Rules OK in Bundesliga

Not one side from the former East Germany (DDR) has won a Bundesliga title in the nineteen years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It looks like the wait could go on for quite a while, as Energie Cottbus are the old East's sole representative in the top flight and even their position is under threat - they are currently bottom of the division. After reunification, the only DDR sides in a financial condition to join the top flight were Dinamo Dresden and Hansa Rostock.

More Uncertainties At Newcastle United

Long suffering Newcastle United fans face further uncertainties about the future of the club. Two American companies are said to be in the market to buy Newcastle. The usual broker in such deals, Keith Harris of Seymour Pierce, has described the potential purchasers as 'wealthy investment funds' and the 'people behind them [are] first-rate', but nothing is guaranteed. There have been suggestions that Ashley may be prepared to stay at the club, working in tandem with local businessmen.

Fiery AGM at Norwich City FC

Nearly 440 fans attended the annual general meeting of Norwich City FC and remarks made by Delia Smith attracted a subsequent clarification from would-be investor Peter Cullum. It emerged there was no money available for new transfers and Peter Cullum's potential takeover deal was dead in the water. The club has appointed Keith Harris of Seymour Pierce, the 'Mr Big' of football takeover deals, to try and find new investment. But this will not be an easy task, illustrating the dilemmas that clubs of the size of Norwich face despite their solid fan base and historical track record.

Liverpool Could Be Forced To Sell Players

Keith Harris, the chairman of investment bank Seymour Pierce, and a key intermediary in football takeovers, believes that the American owners of Liverpool could be forced to sell leading players if they are unable to pay off the club's £350m debt. Although George Gillett Jr and Tom Hicks have an option to extend the 25 January deadline for repaying the loan by six months, it is far from certain that an extension will be granted.

Promoted Teams Need Careful Business Strategies

Getting promoted to the Premiership can seem like a bonanza, but getting relegated can bring a cold dose of reality. Once the parachute payments run out, life becomes very difficult, as clubs like Leicester and Southampton have found. Recently we reported in depth on the prudent strategy being followed by Hull City. But what of the other two newly promoted teams? For Stoke City it's a long awaited return to the top flight, but West Bromwich Albion have the reputation of being a yo-yo team.

Setanta Seeks New Supremo As TV Rights Battle Looms

Setanta Sports is searching for a new chief executive of its British operations after the broadcaster fell foul of football fans for failing to sell highlights of England's win over Croatia to ITV. The broadcaster is also preparing to line up more cash from its shareholders, which include Goldman Sachs, to help to finance a bid to renew its Premiership television rights in the spring. Mark O'Meara, who was the chief operating officer running the British operation, has returned to his native Ireland where he will have a consultancy role.

Intermediary Says There Will Be More Gulf Sales

Amanda Staveley has emerged as a key figure in major deals with Britain and the Gulf States, recently facilitating the purchase of a 16 per cent stake in Barclays Bank for Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. That deal follows the sheikh's £210m purchase in September of Manchester City by means of Abu Dhabi United Group. Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, still harbours hopes she can purchase Liverpool for him.

Two U.S. Investors In For Magpies

Two US-based investors are left in the race to buy Newcastle United off Mike Ashley. Both of them are believed to already be involved in the management of sports franchises. Seymour Pierce who are acting as advisers on the sale of the club have confirmed that the original field of seven potential bidders has been whittled down to two. It is believed that Mike Ashley has scaled down his expectations of what he can get from the sale following recent financial turmoil.