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Revolution draws 0-0 with Alajuelense in CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal series.

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Around the World

Entry into Premier League could lead to Reading sale.

James Harper and John Madejski
Reading chairman John Madejski (right) celebrates his club's English League Championship title with midfielder James Haerper
-- Reading FC web site photo

READING, England (Monday, July 17, 2006) -- Reading FC, home to Americans Bobby Convey and Marcus Hahnemann, is up for sale.

The team, which won the English League Championship last season, setting a second-division record for points on its way to promotion to the Premiership, has been losing money for a decade. Owner John Madejski sees more red ink ahead in the Premier League and he wants out.

Reading has amassed debts totaling over $18 million during Madejski's 16-years in charge. With the cost of acquiring new players and other costs associated with life in the Premiership, he sees the club slipping further into debt despite vastly increased revenue from television.

Reading recently announced the signing of South Korean World Cupper Seol Ki-hyeon for a club record $2.7-million transfer fee. The signing has resulted in a flood of Asian media interest in the team, so Madejski is on the lookout for a possible Asian buyer. He says he has held informal talks with two interested parties and has made a public appeal to potential investors in a well-publicized Japanese television interview.

"If there is a person out there with lovely deep pockets, they should come and see me because I'm prepared to let go of the reins," he told the media.

Madejski, 65, accumulated his fortune in the publishing and leisure industries. He now says he badly underestimated what it will cost to compete in the Premiership. "I naively believed that getting into the Premier League would solve all our financial problems, but it hasn't," he said recently. "The amounts of money in this league are obscene and I find it quite horrible. . . As a result, clubs outside the top six are finding it very hard to survive."

After his remarks became public, Madejski felt it necessary to "clarify" his comments on the Reading Web site.

"Having been chairman for the past 16 years and helped guide the club into the Premiership, I feel in many ways that my task is completed," he was quoted. "This doesn't mean that I will abandon the club immediately -- indeed, I would like to enjoy the Premiership. However, the message I am putting out is simply that if there is a substantially wealthy corporation or private individual who is seriously thinking of investing in a Premiership football club, I would be willing to speak to them.

"I would like to emphasize that this is not a fire sale. I will not cut and run, and I will only consider offers that would benefit the long-term interests of the club. I have immensely enjoyed the last 16 years at Reading Football Club and working with my exceedingly good professional staff. We've built this club brick on brick, we have a magnificently-run club and the future looks incredibly bright.

"We have the capacity to increase the size of the stadium (named after him) to approaching 40,000 seats, a location that is the envy of many clubs and we don't anticipate making any changes to the management philosophy that has served us so well. I am just letting the current situation be known and would like to reiterate that everything at Reading Football Club is extremely stable and we are very much looking forward to the new season in the Premiership."


French lawyer sues for Cup final replay

PARIS -- A lawyer is asking a French court to rule that the 2006 World Cup final should be replayed because of the controversy over Zinedine Zidane's ejection.

French attorney Mehana Mouhou contends that officials relied on video replay in making the decision to send off Zidane, France's legendary captain, for head-butting Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest. World governing body FIFA regulations prohibit referees from using video evidence during the course of a match.

"I am going to ask the judge to question all individuals concerned and to reconstruct the end of the refereeing," Mouhou told Reuters. "If it is proved that the fourth referee used video evidence, FIFA can have the final replayed."

Mouhou said he was acting on behalf of a number of clubs and associations whose names he would reveal once the suit has been filed with the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris, France's main civil court.

The head-butting incident was missed by the referee and his two linesmen. He was informed of the transgression by the fourth match official, who said he had witnessed the altercation. But French team officials have challenged this version of events, saying the game official only became aware of what happened because a replay was shown on the stadium's big screen.

Materazzi, accompanied by his lawyer and Italian Football Federation external relations executive Sergio Di Cesare, appeared Friday morning for 90 minutes before a FIFA panel investigating the incident at the organization's Zurich headquarters.

"Marco was optimistic after the meeting," Claudio Vigorelli, the player's agent said. "Everything went fine. He gave his version of what happened. He will not have to return to Zurich at a later stage."

Materazzi's request to move the meeting up from July 20 was granted, allowing him to fly Sunday for a vacation in the Maldives.

"Do you know where Zidane will spend his holidays?" the midfielder asked, joking. "Itís just that the Maldives are small islands."


Juventus could face financial crisis from scandal

ROME -- Juventus, one of the world's most storied franchises, is heading for a financial crisis because of penalties it was handed in Italy's soccer corruption scandal, according to an expert on the finances of the nation's soccer clubs.

Juventus, one of four clubs penalized, was forced to vacate its Serie A championships from the past two seasons, was demoted to Serie B and will be penalized 30 points in the standings next season, virtually insuring the fabled club will spend at least two seasons in the second division.

Stuart Whitwell, a joint managing director of brand valuation consultancy at Intangible Business, thinks Juventus needs major additional investment to avoid a complete collapse. He told the Financial Times the club could lose $356 million over the next two seasons.

"Around 80 percent of Juventus' revenue is from sponsorship and television rights deals, and I would expect the vast majority of that to disappear," Whitwell told Sporting Life. "There is a triple-hit really. Juventus can expect a loss of at least 50 percent of its income overnight. Under the circumstances, sponsors could drop out, and I expect many to do so. There will also be a major loss of players, and thirdly the image of the club is tarnished.

"Unless there is private investment from the Agnelli family (the club owner) or another source, Juventus will go out of business. They could suffer financial meltdown. I think Juventus will need private investments of around 125 million euros ($156,703,373) a year for perhaps the next two or three years to keep going. Juventus' ticket revenue is incredibly small for a club of its size and many sponsors will not want to be associated with the club.

"With the loss of income, Juventus will not be able to command a premium. I do think the Juve image will recover over time, because of the history of the club. Juve does have a bit of magic about it and I expect that to help carry it through, but it will take years."

The entire Serie A could suffer. Mediaset, Italy's largest broadcaster, has notified the league it wants a reduction of the fee it pays for broadcasting the highlights of games and has withheld its first payment on this year's contract, it was reported. Italian state broadcaster RAI, which owns the nation's Champions League Rights, and Sky Italia, the satellite broadcaster of Italian league matches, will also be adversely affected by the ruling and could seek redress.

Prosecutors wanted Juventus demoted all the way down to the third division, but judges on the Italian tribunal would not go that far. The tribunal also barred former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi for five years and Italian Soccer Federation ex-president Franco Carraro for four years.

"It is a sentence that should be respected and that could have been much worse," said Antonio Di Pietro, Italy's minister of infrastructure and former prosecutor told the Italian news agency ANSA.

Separate criminal investigations into sports fraud, illegal betting and false bookkeeping are being conducted in Naples, Rome, Parma and Turin, though it will take at least several months for any indictments to be handed down.

Of the four teams involved, Juventus received the stiffest sanctions after being exposed as having a central involvement in arguably the biggest corruption case in Italian soccer history.

Fiorentina and Lazio were also relegated to Serie B and will start next season with 12 and seven-point deficits, respectively.

AC Milan was allowed to stay in Serie A, but will start the 2006-07 campaign with a 15-point deficit. Additionally, the club had 44 points deducted from its 2005-06 total, disqualifying it from competing in the upcoming, lucrative European Champions League.

The clubs have the opportunity to appeal the decision. Juventus said in a statement that it would appeal what it called an "unbelievable" decision, while AC Milan said the verdict was "an extraordinary injustice."

Fiorentina said its relegation was "profoundly unjust" and promised to "fight with all means and in every forum." Lazio president Claudio Lotito said he is willing to take the case as far as the European Court of Justice.

Twelve of the 23 players on the roster of Italy's World Cup championship team come from the four penalized teams. Many of the top players from Juventus have contracts that allow them to seek other clubs as a free transfer in event of a relegation to Serie B.

Coach Fabio Capello, who guided Juventus to its last two Serie A titles, resigned last week to become coach of Real Madrid. Defender Fabio Cannavaro, a World Cup star, is rumored to follow him to Madrid, while his Juventus teammate, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, another Cup luminary, was reported to be headed to English power Arsenal.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger denied the report. "This situation is disturbing the market because you have a flow of players coming out," he told his club's web site. "But don't forget that the players of Juventus are very well paid and not many clubs in the world can afford to pay these kinds of wages. We can not afford to do it. That is why we are not very much disturbed by the Juventus case. It is very unlikely."

The scandal broke when taped conversations of Moggi and Cararro were the prelude to accusations the pair were the architects of a network of federation officials, team owners, referees and journalists who influenced the appointments of referees and thus altered the outcome of league matches.

Both Moggi and Giraudo resigned in May, along with the entire Juventus board of directors.

Referee Massimo De Santis, who was pulled from the World Cup, received a four-year suspension, while Serie A referee Paolo Dondarini received a three-season ban, among a number of game officials banned for varied lengths of time.

Adriano Galliani, the vice president of AC Milan and former soccer league president, received a one-year suspension, while Diego Della Valle, the president and owner of Fiorentina, received a four-year suspension. His brother, Andrea Della Valle, received a three-year ban, while Lazio president Claudio Lotito was suspended for three-and-one half years.

Lecce, Messina and Treviso, three teams who were to be relegated to Serie B, will be returned to Serie A to fill the three vacancies.


Van Nistelrooy to leave Manchester United

MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester United will accede to the wishes of its prolific striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and facilitate a transfer -- if the price is right. The Dutch star scored 150 goals in all competitions in his five seasons with United, but manager Alex Ferguson considered him out of form in the closing months of the 2005-06 season and dropped him from the starting lineup.

Van Nistlerooy expressed his anger when he was left on the bench in United's 4-0 triumph over Wigan in the February 26 Carling Cup final.

Van Nistlerooy has 28 goals in 53 international appearances for the Netherlands, including a tally in the 2-1 victory over the Ivory Coast in the recently completed World Cup. However, he was conspicuously unused when the Dutch were eliminated by Portugal 1-0 in the Round of 16.

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