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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

European Leagues

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Power grab by top European clubs

Uefa will guarantee more places for clubs from Europe's top football leagues in the Champions League, in a power shift towards the wealthiest teams.  The move, which follows threats from rich clubs to create a breakaway competition, will ensure more places for teams from Europe's largest television markets, but to the detriment of smaller nations.

The match fixing problem

The immense growth in football betting in recent decades has increased the incentives for criminals to attempt to engage in match fixing and sometimes they find players who are willing to take part.  It's a long way from the days of people filling in the football 'coupon' and hoping to find instant riches.

According to Swiss outfit Sportsradar something like €375 billion of bets are placed each year on football matches.   Their fraud detection unit thinks that about one per cent of matches have been rigged.

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.