Tuesday , October 17 2017

‘Forest’s Kuwaiti owner close to $60m US sale’

LONDON, Oct 18, (Agencies): A US consortium is close to agreeing a $60 million takeover of English Championship football team Nottingham Forest from current owner, Fawaz Al-Hasawi, according to UK media reports.

The Telegraph newspaper reports that the US consortium is led by John Jay Moores, the former owner of Major League Baseball franchise San Diego Padres, and is in “advanced talks” with Kuwaiti owner Al-Hasawi, who will reportedly agree an 80-20 percent split and remain as chairman.

The Al-Hasawi family bought the club in 2012 and have endured a troublesome time during their four years as owners. Al-Hasawi has been in talks with Moores for the last three months, according to the newspaper.

More recently, Al-Hasawi has been dealing with issues closer to home, after he was named as the new head of Kuwait’s troubled football association. Al-Hasawi took over shortly after Kuwaiti authorities seized the organisation’s premises following accusations of financial irregularities.

Following suspensions by the International Olympic Committee and football world governing body FIFA, Kuwait was banned from the Rio Olympics, and cannot take part in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

US tycoon Frank McCourt officially completed his purchase of Marseille and vowed to invest 200 million euros ($220 mn) to restore the fallen French Ligue 1 giants to their former glory.

The 63-year-old former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers signed the necessary paperwork in Paris having entered into exclusive discussions to buy Marseille from owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus on Aug 29.

Louis-Dreyfus took control after the death of her husband Robert in 2009, but despite a multi-million euro investment the club have struggled finishing 13th last season.

McCourt’s ownership takes effect immediately with his new club president Jacques-Henri Eyraud, arriving at the team’s Velodrome stadium to mark the start of a new era after 20 years under the control of the Louis-Dreyfus family.

“Today a new chapter opens in the great history of Olympique de Marseille,” McCourt said in a statement after penning a deal worth 45 million euros ($49.5 mn).

“The challenges which OM has had to face on and off the pitch had a negative impact on fans of the club in recent years,” he continued. “We’re going to put our club back on the road to glory.”

McCourt told French sports daily L’Equipe he planned to invest “200 million euros over the next four years” in the club.

The challenges are enormous — Marseille, struggling to attract top players and investment, have not played elite Champions League for the past three seasons.

Fans have been staying away in droves from the Velodrome with less than 25,000 attending last Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Metz, the final game of the Louis-Dreyfus era.

Marseille’s first game under McCourt’s tenure is a daunting test against Qatari-backed French champions Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

Eyraud signed his part of the deal in Paris before travelling south to Marseille, arriving at the club’s training ground by motorbike taxi where he met the players and staff.

The duo McCourt-Eyraud will be looking to overhaul the former European champions who had the club’s worst league finish in 15 years last season.

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