Press Review - November 2022

Juventus FC in the sights of Italian justice

The public prosecutor's office in Turin has opened an investigation called "Prisma" to examine the club's accounts for possible anomalies. The Consob, which regulates the Italian stock market, also suspects Juventus of having artificially inflated its financial statements.

“Each of the three directors with powers (the chairman of the board of directors Andrea Agnelli, the vice chairman Pavel Nedved and the chief executive officer Maurizio Arrivabene) has considered appropriate to forego the powers granted to them”, these were the words of the press release –published on November the 28th– announcing the resignation of Juventus’ president Andrea Agnelli and the entire board of directors in a crisis context. One week after, the club is more than ever in the sights of Italian justice. The authorities are scrutinizing the club's accounts, looking for anomalies. If serious faults are found, the club risks heavy sanctions. "These are the most serious accusations in the history of Juventus, more serious than those of Calciopoli in 2006. The actions denounced are unprecedented", explained Mattia Grassani, a sports lawyer, on Rai1. Sixteen years ago, Calciopoli led to Juventus' relegation and the loss of two league titles. At the time, the Turin management was accused of selecting referees for its matches.

The sentence could be even more severe this time. As reported by several media outlets, in case of conviction Mattia Grassani expects Juventus to face a relegation and the loss of further titles. The possible sanctions could fall at the end of the season. In the meantime, the new board of directors of Juventus should be appointed during the general meeting of shareholders, convened on January the 18th.

Fenway Sports Group, owner of Liverpool FC, has put it up for sale

The American group Fenway Sports Group, owner of Liverpool since 2010, would be ready to give up control if it finds a buyer.

According to media reports, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been retained to assist with the process, after a full sales presentation has been produced for interested parties. “There have been a number of recent changes of ownership and rumors of changes in ownership at EPL clubs and inevitably we are asked regularly about Fenway Sports Group’s ownership in Liverpool. FSG has frequently received expressions of interest from third parties seeking to become shareholders in Liverpool. FSG has said before that under the right terms and conditions we would consider new shareholders if it was in the best interests of Liverpool as a club”, a statement from FSG to The Athletic says.

During the last decade, Anfield, the mythic stadium of Liverpool, has been transformed, with a new £110million Main Stand, while the Anfield Road Stand is being redeveloped. “That £80m project will be completed next summer and boost capacity to around 61,000. FSG has also overseen the club’s move from Melwood to a new £50m training facility in Kirkby”, The Athletic adds.

Paris Saint-Germain and Megniu Group agree on a regional partnership deal

Paris Saint-Germain announced Mengniu Group, China's leading dairy brand, as its new official regional partner in China, on November the 28th.

The aim of this partnership with Paris Saint-Germain, according to Mengniu, is carrying out football-related public activities: both parties hope to continue to support young Chinese footballers, provide a broader platform and communication opportunities for Chinese football, and help more Chinese youth enjoy the joy of football.

Before that, Mengniu Group became the official global sponsor of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and signed two Paris Saint-Germain players, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé, as brand ambassadors. "We are delighted to welcome Mengniu Group to the Paris Saint-Germain family. It is a great honor that Mengniu has chosen Paris Saint-Germain, one of the most ambitious and dynamic clubs in the world, for its first partnership with a soccer club", says Sebastien Wasels, general manager Asia-Pacific of Paris Saint-Germain.

eLigue 1 Open becomes eLigue Open Uber Eats before the launch of its new season

Before the launch of its new season at the beginning of January 2023, the eLigue 1 Open, France's leading amateur eSport competition organized by the French Football League (LFP) in partnership with EA SPORTSTM, becomes the eLigue 1 Open by Uber Eats and launches its registration process.

This tournament marks its comeback with a change of name, the eLigue 1 Open becomes the eLigue 1 Open by Uber Eats, and with a change of the graphical charter color, from green to raspberry. This evolution of its design allows it to stand out from the eLigue 1 Uber Eats, reserved for professional players.

The new season will kick off in January with the 20 clubs' tournaments. Each club tournament is composed of two cups: one cup for Old Generation consoles (Xbox One and PS4) and one cup for Next Generation consoles (Xbox Serie S and PS5). Players from the same console generation will be able to compete against each other. In a second step, the winners of each club cup will meet in mid-February for the national playoffs.

The participants will win gifts from the 8th finals of their club's cup: jerseys, match tickets, balls, goodies... At the end of the national final, the two national winners (one on Old Generation consoles and one on Next Generation consoles) will be offered several rewards: a 1,000 Euro cash prize, two PS5s, an evening backstage at the eLigue 1 Uber Eats, and a qualifying place for the eLigue 1 Challenge 2023.

"Through this commitment alongside the LFP in the organization of the eLigue 1 Open by Uber Eats, we want to continue to offer new experiences to soccer and eSports fans. We are delighted to be able to continue to bring together all the communities that make up French soccer, while accompanying the digital turn initiated by the Professional Football League", says Bastien Pahus, general manager Uber Eats France, Switzerland, and Belgium.

"The launch of this seventh edition in collaboration with EA SPORTSTM marks once again the LFP's perennial commitment to eSports. For this new season, it is with great enthusiasm that we reinforce this commitment thanks to the participation of our title partner of Ligue 1 Uber Eats, which shares our ambition to meet the needs of amateur players who are fans of the championship but also of its clubs", Mathieu Ficot, Deputy Director General of the LFP says.

NBA opens up franchise investment to pension and sovereign wealth funds

The National Basketball Association (NBA) will permit sovereign wealth funds, endowments, and pensions will now be able to acquire passive stakes in the NBA’s franchises.

This decision has been taken after a recent vote by the NBA’s board, according to which investment would still need a league review as well as the approval of the governing board. “The NBA board of governors recently decided to allow direct, passive investments in NBA teams by institutional investors. All such investments are subject to league review and NBA board approval”, NBA’s spokesman Mike Bass tells in a statement to several US media.

This strategic choice is in line with the NBA becoming, at the beginning of 2021, the first US major league to open up franchises’ ownership to private equity firms. “Currently, private equity firms can acquire up to 20 per cent of a single franchise and are limited to investing in a maximum of five teams. It is unclear at this stage whether pension or sovereign wealth funds will be investing under the same conditions. Meanwhile, the maximum equity an NBA team can sell to external funds remains at 30 per cent”, adds.

Olympique Lyonnais to be sold to Eagle Football Holdings

In a press release published on December the 10th, OL Groupe announced that it had obtained all the necessary agreements to finalize the sale of Olympique Lyonnais to Eagle Football Holdings, after being postponed several times.

The OL Groupe’s statement adds that Eagle has now confirmed that all necessary agreements have been obtained and the contracts signed, such that the conditions are in place to proceed with the completion of the transaction. Eagle Football Holdings and "its financing sources, as well as the Sellers and OL Groupe, are now ready to begin the closing process. Given the technical delays inherent to this type of transaction, the closing is expected to take place on December the 19th", OL Groupe concludes.

On July the 7th, Eagle signed a deal to buy €39.201.514 shares of OLG at €3 per share, as well as 789.824 shares of the OSRANE group of shareholders (film company Pathe, Chinese investment fund IDG Capital, and Jean-Michel Aulas’ family holding company Holnest) at €265.57 per share. That will give Eagle close to 88% of the OL Group. The global price is about €327.