Author olafpriol

Author olafpriol

United’s secret plan to bring Blatter on board

Olaf Priol April 1, 2015 Tags: , , Just for fun 16 comments
featured image

Rant’s man in Switzerland uncovers secret talks at an advanced stage.

Manchester United’s ruling Glazer family is holding secret talks with Seppe Blatter as a precursor to the FIFA President joining the Board this summer, Rant has learned. In a controversial move, it is believed that the talks are at an advanced stage, with a formal announcement possible after the FIFA presidential elections conclude this year. Rant understands that talks were brokered by new FIFA vice president and fomer United managing director David Gill.

Although no formal agreement has yet been signed, sources close to septuagenarian have indicated the Swiss executive’s role will be wide-ranging, including oversight of United’s commercial and media departments, and political liaison. The Glazer family believes Blatter will broker relationships for the club at the highest political and commercial levels those with knowledge of the deal told Rant.

The Glazers’ approach to Blatter is unlikely to be popular with supporters or the English FA, although the family is no stranger to controversy. The American family is approaching its 10th anniversary in charge at Old Trafford after completing an aggressive leveraged buyout in May 2005. The Glazers landed the £690 million buyout cost on the club’s books, leaving a previously debt-free institution highly leveraged and spending millions per year on repayments and interest.

Blatter has been FIFA President since 1998 after beating Swede Lenham Johanssen to the post in controversial circumstances. The 79-year-old has held on to the Presidency despite controversy over media rights, a lack of commercial transparency, accusations of corruption, misogyny and racism at the Swiss-based non-profit. Under Blatter’s Presidency the 2022 World Cup was awarded to the tiny gulf state of Qatar and switched to a winter tournament.

Rant understands that talks between United and Blatter began in the New Year when it became apparent Gill was on course to be elected to the game’s governing body. If formally signed, Blatter will work a dual role with the governing body and United.

“Seppe sees this as more than another easy pay-day,” a source told Rant. “This is a shot at global media redemption at the world’s most popular club. Seppe is determined to leave a legacy in Manchester.”

United’s board is made up of six Glazer siblings – Avram, Joel, Bryan, Edward, Darcie, and Kevin – together with Group Managing Director Richard Arnold, Commercial Director, Jamieson Reigle, and independent directors Robert Leitão, Manu Sawhney and John Hooks.

In a complicated ownership structure the club is registered in the Cayman Islands, but listed on the New York stock exchange with a dual-class share issuance. The Glazers are firm in their belief that Blatter will be a good cultural and executive fit with the Board, sources told Rant.

“Seppe is intimately familiar with Grand Cayman’s secretive banking system,” the source said. “New York is also one of his favourite destinations, particularly the neighbourhood around Hell’s Kitchen. After all its no secret that Blatter is the spawn of satan’s anus, possibly even the devil himself.”

Anderson illness puts United future in doubt

Olaf Priol April 1, 2013 Tags: Just for fun 16 comments
featured image

Brazilian Anderson has been struck down with a secret long-term illness according to sources close to United Rant, provoking new questions over the midfielder’s future at Old Trafford. Suffering another disappointing campaign, Anderson has been earmarked for a summer exit from Manchester United according to newspaper speculation in recent weeks, with Sir Alex Ferguson planning to freshen up his squad next season.

However, new concerns over the player’s health, together with patchy fitness and form over the campaign, could solidify Ferguson’s tentative decision to let the former Porto star leave this summer. The 71-year-old Scot has repeatedly denied that Anderson will exit Old Trafford.

Anderson joined United from Porto for €30 million in 2007, but has rarely fulfilled an exciting potential over six seasons with the club. Dogged by injuries and concerns over his weight, the Brazilian has made just 121 starts for the club in a period of immense frustration for player, club and supporters.

However, sources close to Rant revealed this morning that the midfielder is suffering from an acute bout of adenovirus gastroenteritis that has been treated for up to six months at the Bridgewater Hospital, Manchester. Anderson’s illness has been kept secret by Old Trafford’s management, although Ferguson’s anguish over the player’s long-term future is reportedly genuine.

But the story, which was accidentally leaked on this morning, is set to force United’s hand this summer, with Anderson reportedly seeking a move back to Brazil ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Adenovirus gastroenteritis, which is typically spread by the faecal-oral route, is a icosahedral virus composed of a nucleocapsid and a double-stranded linear DNA genome. Infected patients display a wide range of responses, from no symptoms at all to the severe infection. Aside from gastroenteritis, presentations of adenovirus include respiratory disease, conjunctivitis, cystitis, and rash.

Patients with compromised immune systems, such as those significantly overweight, are especially susceptible to severe complications of adenovirus infection.

Although the source of Anderson’s infection is unknown, sources close to Rant revealed that club officials are targeting the Wythenshawe branch of KFC for scrutiny. The fast-food restaurant is reportedly a favourite late-night destination for the 24-year-old midfielder.

However, branch management denied that poor sanitary conditions at the restaurant are to blame for Anderson’s problems this season.

“It’s no secret that Anderson is a frequent visitor to our store, but it is not KFC’s fault that he is ill,” store manager Olaf Priol told Rant.

“Our sanitary engineers wipe down the cooking surfaces once, sometimes even twice a month, and the toilets are of exceptional standards.”

No United spokesperson was readily available to comment on this story or reports that Anderson’s recent weight loss can be traced back to a severe case of the shits.

Secret Glazer deal to sell Old Trafford naming rights

Olaf Priol April 1, 2012 Tags: , Just for fun 25 comments
featured image

Manchester United owners the Glazer family has struck a secret multi-million pound deal with PepsiCo to rename Old Trafford. The deal, which will come into effect from the start of the 2012-13 season, will bring more than £400 million into the club coffers over the next 10 years, a source close to the deal exclusively revealed to United Rant this week.

United’s home stadium since 1910 will be renamed ‘Pepsi Cola Old Trafford’ from August 2012, according to documents seen by Rant, and then simply Pepsi Field from 2015. The deal does not initially include shirt sponsorship, although Pepsi is believed to have an option to take over shirt sponsorship from AON, when United’s deal with the insurance firm concludes in three years. It could push the total value of the deal to more than £60 million per season.

The historic deal, brokered by United’s London-based commercial team headed by Edward Woodward, will be greeted with delight by United’s bean counters, while it will likely draw anger from those supporters opposed to changing more than 100 years of Old Trafford history.

Secret talks with the giant New York-based American soft drinks and snacks company, which turned over more than $57 billion in 2010, have been taking place for more than six months the source told Rant. PepsiCo Europe is said to have day-to-day responsibility for the groundbreaking sponsorship, although New York senior management were required to signed off on the deal, which is believed to be the biggest of its kind in football.

“Make no mistake this is a done deal,” the source, who did not want to be named, told Rant.

“The Glazer family is secretly delighted with the deal, although they know that it will bring an angry reaction from some fans’ groups. But just as the Green and Gold protest has gone away, the Glazers know that as long as Sir Alex Ferguson keeps delivering results on the pitch, commercial activity will be unaffected by fans’ complaints.

“Pepsi is one of the most active American companies in sports sponsorship, but rarely outside of North America. This is a strategic move for the company to build an even bigger global audience. United has been tracking this deal for months, perhaps even years. Joel Glazer pulled out all the stops to seal it.”

Pepsi, through its cola brands, Gatorade and snack products, has sponsorships across a number of sports, including Major League Baseball, American Football and Ice Hockey. Pepsi has won naming rights, or other stadia sponsorship deals, at several venues in north America, including Citi Field baseball stadium and the new Yankee Stadium in New York. Elsewhere, Pepsi brands sponsor NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, snowboarder Hannah Teter, and American sports stars Eli Manning and Michael Jordan.

Pepsi Cola Field, Old Trafford

Meanwhile, the Glazers are still believed to be planning an IPO in Asian in autumn 2012, seeking $1 billion for up to 30 per cent of the family’s stock. United remains more than £400 million in debt, with supporters’ groups estimating that up to half a billion pounds has been spent on debt repayment, interest and other fees by the Glazers since the family’s controversial 2005 takeover.

“The IPO will go ahead, but only on the Glazers terms,” said the source, who is intimate with United’s commercial machinery.

“The deal with Pepsi, the float, it’s part of the family’s plan to ensures that the Glazers can send much of the IPO gains back to the States, while still growing United’s commercial revenue. On the field you’ll eventually see United wearing Pepsi shirts, drinking Gatorade drinks and touring whatever markets Pepsi needs to break, especially Africa, India and China. It’ll be the ‘Pepsi Manchester Globetrotters’, but at least the players won’t be thirsty on their travels.”

Naming rights are a widespread phenomenon in north American, even for established stadia, but far less common in Europe. Both Arsenal’s home at the ‘Emirates’ and Manchester City’s Etihad Campus were new, or relatively new builds. Meanwhile, Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley courted controversy, renaming St James’ Park the Sports Direct Arena. Indeed, supports recently defaced the Sports Direct signage, while refusing to use the new name. However, most media outlets have reverted to the new branding.

“Old Trafford is an iconic name, with more than a century of history, but such is the longevity of the deal with Pepsi that it will eventually disappear,” said Olaf Priol, Director of Sports Business Group, Deloitte.

“The Glazers are playing the long game. They know that this will bring anger, but fans have been angry for six years and what has it achieved. The family has struck a huge deal that will boost the club’s enterprise value just months short of floatation.

“Fans might be angry at losing the Old Trafford name, but the Glazers will be thinking ‘Screw the fans, United just won the Pepsi Challenge’.”

Keane to become Premier League ref

Olaf Priol April 1, 2011 Tags: Just for fun 15 comments
featured image

Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane is to become the highest profile ex-player to take up refereeing, Football Association papers have revealed. Keane, who has taken several refereeing examinations since being sacked by Ipswich in January, could even be fast tracked into the Premier League in time for the 2011/12 season, according the documents seen by United Rant.

Keane’s promotion is part of the FA’s increasingly hardline stance on the organisation’s ‘Respect’ campaign, underlined by the five-match touchline ban handed to Sir Alex Ferguson last month. The United manager will sit out Saturday’s trip to West Ham United and three further matches, including the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley.

Keane’s extraordinary appointment opens up the possibility that the 39-year-old former player could even take charge of fixtures involving United next season. Rant understands that there will be no special restrictions in the Irishman’s officiating role.

In papers seen by Rant this week, Keane’s refereeing performances in the Suffolk and County League since January (pictured, above)  are described as “among the best seen” by a rookie official. Occupying the eighth rung on the non-League football pyramid, the Sussex League has enabled Keane to remain at his family home in Woodbridge, Suffolk, while training.

“Keane demonstrates a gravitas rarely seen [in a match official] … as a former player he commands the pitch with authority and it is obvious that players respect his decisions,” continues the report. “Keane’s understanding of the game is first-rate.”

In the papers Keane scores highly on decision-making and discipline, although the former player is criticised for a “cavalier attitude” towards issuing cautions.

Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the body which represents officials in England’s top league, is yet to officially comment but in an off-the-record briefing sources at PGMOL told Rant that refereeing peers are firmly behind Keane’s rapid elevation. PGMOL believes that a high-profile ex-player will initiate a trickle down effect of respect for referees in the professional game.

Keane’s remarkable promotion to officialdom is the latest twist in the Irishman’s colourful career. Starting at Cobh Ramblers in 1989, Keane then played for Nottingham Forrest before making a British record-breaking £3.75 million move to United in 1992. Keane saw out a stormy career, which included eight red cards, at Celtic before retiring on medical advice in July 2006.

As a manager Keane enjoyed two successful seasons with Sunderland, including promotion from the Championship in 2007 before taking over at Ipswich in April 2009. His dismissal by Portman Road owner Marcus Evans brought an end to 18 turbulent months in Suffolk.

And Keane’s agent says that the Irishman is approaching his new career with the same intensity as playing and management.

“Roy is a dedicated profession and he will undertake refereeing duties every bit as seriously as he played and managed,” Olaf Priol told Rant.

“He is absolutely serious about this. He understands he’ll get some stick from former pros, those he played with and against, but Roy knows that refereeing is broken in England and he thinks he can fix it.

“Roy was a hard pro and he’s a hard ref but in these days of diving and harassing officials, players and managers will draw the line with him on the pitch. This is the best thing that has happened to refereeing since the invention of the whistle.”

Keane is not the first player to turn official. Newton Heath (later United) players Sam Black and Herbert Dale became referees in the 1880s. Meanwhile, Bradford City and Chesterfield player Steve Baines became an official after retiring in the late 1980s. By 1994 Baines was an Assistant Referee in the Football League, and full official by 1995.

Former manager Ferguson could not be reached for comment as Rant went to press.

Disney bid for United confirmed

Olaf Priol April 1, 2010 Tags: , Just for fun 20 comments
featured image

Walt Disney, the American media conglomerate made famous for Mickey Mouse, has made a successful bid for Manchester United, Rant sources confirmed today. The huge £1.5 billion transaction, ending months of speculation about a potential Red Knights bid for the club, will complete in the next few weeks.

Documents leaked to Rant reveal details of the secret transaction between the Glazer family and The Walt Disney Company. The media company confirmed details of the bid in an exclusive interview given by the head of Disney Corporation in Asia-Pacific.

The APAC division will lead commercialisation of United’s brand in Asia, said sources.

“The Manchester United franchise has many synergies with Disney,” said Kim Cue Ye Som, managing director Disney APAC.

“For more than 80 years Disney has entertained families, thrilled audiences and created magic. Manchester United has done the same and we are delighted that to bring the magic of Disney to the Old Trafford bowl.

“The franchise’s 300 million fans love Wayne Rooney and they’ll love Mickey Mouse too.”

The mammoth bid includes United’s £504 million bond and represents a multi-million profit for the Glazer family, which acquired the club in a leveraged £790 million buyout in 2005.

Despite the outlay, Disney believes that it can generate millions in revenues from United’s global fan base, cross selling Disney merchandise and that of the world’s biggest sport brands, said Kim.

Disney generated more than $35 billion revenues in 2009, dwarfing profits at the highly indebted club. In recent months United’s supporters have mounted a highly publicised green and gold protest against the Glazer family’s ownership.

The American corporation will also bring new innovation from the motion picture business to sport such as new media distribution channels and 3D, said Kim.

“Disney is the world’s largest media corporation, with distribution rights for media in almost every country on the planet,” added Kim.

“We can bring compelling value to the club’s media proposition in markets that have been under-exploited by the former owners and the Premier League.

“Our animation studios at Pixar have become world leading experts in 3D media. For the first time in live sports we will bring football to the fans in 3D at the stadium. Never before at the Old Trafford bowl will football have been so realistic.”

Each fan attending matches will have a seat-back screen so they can be “closer than ever” to the action, added Kim.

United has ripped up its sponsorship deal with US risk management firm Aon following the buyout and Sir Alex Ferguson’s team will don the famous ears of Mickey Mouse on its shirts next season, an early-morning photocall confirmed.

Rumours that rival studio Dreamworks Pictures is preparing to sue Wayne Rooney for breach of copyright over the nickname “Shrek” could not be confirmed at time of publication.