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Business briefing

EU to investigate Real Madrid deal

The European Union is to launch an investigation into the sale of Real Madrid's Ciudad Deportiva training complex three years ago.

The EU wants to know exactly how much money was raised by the deal as it tries to ascertain whether there were any improprieties in the transaction.

The club received a payment of €480 million in May 2001 for the land which allowed the club to pay off debts of €270 million.

However, Soccer Investor reports that there have been allegations that the price was artificially inflated above its market value.

Players agree to help stricken Leeds

Players at Premier League crisis club Leeds United have agreed to offer some form of financial support to the club, if the need arises.

The players and their union, the Professional Footballers' Association, met with Leeds chief executive Trevor Birch this week to discuss the possibility of deferring around 35% of their wages until the end of the season.

However, the players have said they will only agree to the deferral as a last resort if the club is unsuccessful in its efforts to raise £5 million to appease its creditors, who are owed a total of £83 million.

The PFA's Mick McGuire said: 'The players are offering some form of financial support should it be required, when all other avenues have been explored. There is potential for deferment of a proportion of wages.

'Nothing has been agreed at this point. The situation continues to change and we are monitoring it. When we know exactly what they club may need to make up the shortfall then a decision will be made.'

Spurs Shareholders back £15m fundraiser plan

Tottenham shareholders have voted in favour of chairman Daniel Levy's proposals to try and raise £15million through a share scheme which will be used to buy new players.

The go-ahead was given at the club's extraordinary general meeting this week, despite concerns from some.

Opponents to the scheme, including former director Howard Shore who resigned from the board last year, argued that the structure of the deal was unfair to smaller shareholders, and Levy's company, ENIC, was accused of trying to acquire a majority stake at a knockdown price.

Birmingham report £3m profits

Birmingham City have reported a preliminary per-tax profit of £3.34 million for the 12 months to August 31 2003, a significant improvement on losses of £6.4 million announced a year earlier.

The club's turnover leapt from £15.16 million to £36.48 million thanks to the increased income, largely from television as a result of securing promotion to the Premier League.

Bundesliga to launch own TV channel?

Gerd Niebhaum, president of Borussia Dortmund, believes the German Football League (DFL) could launch its own TV channel as soon as next season if pay-television operator Premiere fails to make an improved offer to renew its contract to show Bundesliga matches, reports Soccer Investor.

Niebhaum told Welt am Sonntag that the DFL has the finance, reported to be €500 million, and could introduce its own channel at short notice if Premiere does not increase the €148 million a season it is paying under the current deal, which expires at the end of the season.

The DFL has found itself negotiating directly with the broadcaster after Swiss-based sports rights agency Infront decided not to renew its agreement with the league.

Premiere is thought to be prepared to pay more than the current €148 million, but crucially only if the DFL agrees to new TV-friendly schedule to include a greater spread of matches over weekends.

Administration to cost SPL clubs points

From next season Scottish Premier League clubs that fall into administration will be docked 10 points and forbidden from signing new players following a ruling by SPL chairman this week.

The new ruling will be enforced from May 31 and is intended to placate SPL clubs unhappy at being at a disadvantage to rivals in administration.

Euro 2004's security recruitment drive

The Portuguese government will recruit over 1,000 new security staff in their efforts to deal with the threat of hooliganism at this summer's European Championships.

Portugal's interior minister, Antonio Figueiredo, has announced that a total of 900 new police officers and 180 extra boarder guards are also being drafted in 'as part of the measures being adopted for the event'.

'Each of the participating countries will send a police delegation to Portugal who will co-operate with the authorities in the prevention of violence, by helping to identify their nations who have a history of violent behaviour as sports events', added Figueiredo.

Soccer Investor reports that an estimated 3 million fans are expected to descend on Portugal during the tournament and the country's government has already spent €16.5 million on security equipment including: 150 new police cars, batons, pepper spray, riot gear, police dogs and the country's first mobile water canon.

Australian clubs threatened with sanctions

Eight Australian National Soccer League clubs have been threatened with a transfer embargo if they do not pay money owed to the league before the January 23 deadline.

Stefan Kamasz, the NSL manager, has also warned all 13 clubs, and warned that points could be deducted if the payments were not met.

The payment was imposed on all NSL clubs to compensate for a A$500,000 sponsorship deficit.

Brisbane Strikers, South Melbourne, Melbourne Knights, Northern Spirit, Sydney Olympic, Sydney United, Newcastle United and the Football Kingz are all implicated.

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