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.

Pompey Look For Buyers

Europe’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, has turned down an opportunity to buy Portsmouth FC. An intermediary acting for the club is believed to have approached representatives of System Capital Management, the holding company that controls Akhmetov’s other businesses, with a prospectus, but was shown the door. Akhmetov, who made his fortune in mining and metallurgical businesses, has been the president of Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk since 1996.

Abramovich Really Is A Chelsea Fan

Roman Abramovich really is a Chelsea fan – and we have a 134-page ruling from Mr Justice Christopher Clarke to prove it. The ruling, dealing with a Siberian oil dispute, reveals a great deal of information about Abramovich’s lifestyle. It emerged that as much as 92 per cent of the time he spent in England in any given year was specifically connected with Chelsea matches, rather than any personal or professional ties. Mr Justice Clarke rules that the club, on which he has lavished around £500m, was a ‘hobby and a leisure interest’. ‘It is not a business investment,’ the judge determined.

Spurs Go For New Stadium

Tottenham Hotspur have confirmed their intention to build a new 60,000-capacity stadium near their current White Hart Lane ground. The Northumberland Development Project will be a large-scale development including leisure facilities, public space and housing as well as the new stadium. The scheme includes the current site and adjoining land with the stadium largely sited to the north of the existing one.

Recession Hits Non-League Clubs

Non-league football clubs are taking a big hit as the economy slips into recession. Conference outfit Grays Athletic have cut their players’ wages by a 50 per cent payment deferral to avoid going into administration which is technically a breach of contract and allows players to leave. Workington managed to negotiate a voluntary 10 per cent cut. Despite riding high in the Ryman South, Folkestone Invicta are on the verge of financial meltdown.