SBC’s on the ball: Paradise Papers rocks world football

From sponsorship to the ever-expanding world of football media coverage, when it comes to the business of football, SBC has you covered. This edition shines a spotlight on the recently-leaked Paradise Papers, and the question marks over club ownership that these papers have thrown up. We’ll also reflect on allegations of match fixing against Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis, CONCACAF’s plans for a new Nations League and Manchester City’s record revenues.

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Nottingham Forest Owner charged with match fixing 

Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of Nottingham Forest and Olympiakos will face trial over accusations over trying to fix football matches in Greece.

Marinakis, who passed all the tests required to own an English football club has consistently denied the accusations and has claimed that they were fabricated by “jealous” opponents who are defiant on destroying his success.

Furthermore, following the accusations the Olympiakos Chairman has announced he is stepping down from the board of the Greek champions, he is yet to make an announcement with regards to his future at Forest, however the club has clarified that there are structures in place regardless of the personal fate of Marinakis.

In a statement on the official website of Olympiakos, Marinakis said: “I am certain that my innocence with regard to these remaining charges will be demonstrated by the judicial process that will ensue, thus fully exonerating me.”

The trial is expected to take place at some point in 2018.

Football World left stunned by Paradise Papers

18 months on from the explosive Panama Papers, the topic of offshore tax havens has again been thrust into the limelight, unsurprisingly implicating a number of big names from the world of sport. Dubbed the Paradise Papers this time around, their emergence has thrown up a number of questions surrounding Premier League club ownership.

More specifically, the confusion surrounds the ownership of Everton, and whether league rules have been broken in this case. Farhad Moshiri sold his Arsenal stake in 2016 to buy nearly 50% of Everton, but the leaks suggest his original Arsenal stake was funded by a “gift” from oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who owns 30.4% of Arsenal. This raises the question of whether his money is now in Everton, and the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) is calling for a strengthening of ownership rules.

And while Celtic supporters affectionately refer to their beloved Parkhead as ‘Paradise’, owner Dermot Desmond has been hearing the word in an entirely different context this week. The Irish powerbroker has been implicated in the Papers, with a private jet company he previously owned accused of using an “aggressive” offshore tax avoidance scheme. Desmond rounded on a BBC journalist who confronted him on these allegations in typically tribalistic fashion: writing him an open letter asking “are you a Rangers fan?”

CONCACAF closes in on Nations League agreement

A new Nations League tournament, for teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean, is close to being agreed upon with an expected start date of September 2018. CONCACAF, the region’s governing body, has been consulting with its 41 national associations, which includes the USA and Mexico, and the tournament is intended to run in tandem with UEFA’s Nations League. 

Betfair’s Katie Baylis recently revealed to SBC that “Introducing a more competitive element to turn international ‘friendlies’ into more meaningful encounters seems a good move.” She added that it will probably take time for this to increase interest in international breaks from a betting perspective.

League One Bury go cashless

Greater Manchester club Bury has become the first in the UK to implement a new prepaid card system at its ground. The League One outfit has deployed cashless payments specialists tappit – who also sponsor the club’s away kit – for a new system where fans simply tap their prepaid Bury-branded card against a POS terminal when purchasing refreshments.

The initiative could have positive implications for betting operators located at football stadiums, as in the future there appears to be a realistic possibility that this type of cashless system is utilised to speed up the process of placing a bet at the game.

Blue moon rising 

In spite of a soaring wage bill, which with the help of numerous marquee signings increased from £197.6m to £264.1m, Premier League leaders Manchester City announced record revenue of £473.4m in the 2016-17 financial year. Nonetheless, the Eastland’s club still reported that its profits took a hit, reducing from £20.5m to £1.1m.

City followed up this news with the appointment of former chief executive of Manchester City Council, Sir Howard Berenstein as the club’s strategic development adviser, Berenstein will be responsible for the progress of community, commercial and development initiatives in and around the Etihad Campus. Moreover, City also confirmed a deal in excess of £10 million with Amazon, for a fly on the wall documentary to be broadcast on Amazon Prime in Autumn of 2018.

Speaking about the new series, City chief executive Ferran Soriano stated: “Amazon Prime Video is the perfect home for a ground-breaking project, it will offer a unique and authentic inside view into Manchester City’s season.”

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