The US-registered company that Milan Mandaric yesterday used to purchase Sheffield Wednesday has never formally listed its shareholders. There was a hint at multiple owners when the takeover announcement stated that UK Football Investments LLC, the club's new parent, "is owned by the trustees of the Milan Mandaric 2008 Revocable Trust". But as a limited liability corporation in the US state of Delaware, UK Football Investments has no statutory requirement to provide an annual report. Neither was it required to identify its shareholders in its incorporation documents. Thus in its eight years of trading, the owners have never been disclosed.
Mandaric told Digger yesterday that the trust is "100% owned by me and my family". He said that some of the trustees are not investors, since it is a legal requirement for any trust to have independent trustees. Mandaric added that the trustees referred to in the announcement are him and two US citizens who simply enjoy coming to games of football. He said the trust is not an offshore entity and is also based in Delaware. However the lack of immediate clarity about the structure is another blow for the Football League's transparency drive led by the chairman, Greg Clarke, who said in May: "When you see countries and companies who are not transparent, terrible things happen."
UK Football Investments LLC's former name is a reminder of that. Until three years ago it went by the name of Portsmouth FC LLC, which owned a club that became insolvent within four years of Mandaric bringing Sacha Gaydamak on board. Still, without Mandaric Wednesday did not even have that long: an HM Revenue & Customs winding-up order would have seen to that.
Mixed messages Mohamed Bin Hammam appears a little confused. In the blog section of his official website the Asian Football Confederation's president, who will be one of the 23 to decide where the 2018 and 2022 World Cups are played, hit out at the "lies" of the Spanish sports daily, Marca. In an update posted on Saturday he said the paper had fabricated an interview and wrote darkly of a "hidden war against [Qatar's 2022] bid". The contentious element of the interview was apparently the claim "that Asia and I will support Spain's bid". Bin Hammam, below, clarified: "The Asian executive committee had taken a decision to support Europe in 2018. However, no decision was taken to back any one country." Yet, in the "inside story" section of Bin Hammam's official website, sits precisely the interview that Marca were probably referring to. "Asia supports the Iberian bid," said Bin Hammam in an article uploaded on Thursday, 48 hours before his angry blog post. "Qatar is going to support Spain and Portugal and they will support us, but we're not breaking any rules."
Leaks damage US bidFor all the fuss about last night's 30-minute BBC Panorama programme and the revelations it would contain, WikiLeaks' week-long release of 250,000 files from the US diplomatic service's cables are possibly even more damaging for that nation's World Cup bid. The US is campaigning to hold the 2022 World Cup and rival bidders are delighted about the timing. One said: "Several executive committee members have pretty dim views about the US, and this just strengthens them."
Seward successor soughtThe All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club will appoint a successor to Eddie Seward, its head groundsman of the past two decades, by the turn of the year. But Ian Ritchie, the club's chief executive, is thought already to have identified his shortlist. One is an internal candidate, another is the former Emirates Stadium head groundsman, Paul Burgess, who left Arsenal last year after being headhunted by Real Madrid. Seward, who has previously said he "would not miss the Olympic Games for the world" is not being shunted out ahead of Wimbledon's hosting of its tennis tournament. The AELTCC just wants to give the new appointment a long handover period.