Thursday, March 31, 2011

Liverpool Actively Seeking Stadium Naming Rights Deal

Liverpool's newly-appointed managing director Ian Ayre has revealed the club are actively seeking stadium naming rights partners should they move to a new stadium.

The club's owners, Fenway Sports Group, have made clear that boosting Liverpool's gate receipts through an increased capacity is central to their plans to restore the side to former glories. They have yet to make any official decision on whether that will be achieved through building a new stadium or redeveloping their current home.

Speaking at the SoccerEx forum in Manchester today, Ayre said the club is seeking naming rights partners should they move to a new stadium. However, the club is keen to stress that their current home would not be renamed should they stay put.

Arsenal earned £100 million for a 15-year naming rights deal with the airline Emirates, though that also included an eight-year shirt sponsorship clause.

Liverpool see the sphere as one the club needs to exploit if they are to make ground on Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea in terms of off-pitch income.

Reds Face Battle For Striker Signature

Tottenham have jumped ahead of Arsenal and Liverpool in the race to sign Ipswich striker Conner Wickham who is valued at around £15m.

The 18-year-old has attracted attention from many of the big clubs, and the Reds were thought to be the favourites for his signature but the arrival of Andy Carroll at Anfield appears to have cooled their interest.

Harry Redknapp is now ready to nip in and land the striker beating off interest from Arsenal and Manchester United in the process.

Spurs are aided by the fact that assistant academy boss Bryan Klug knows Wickham from his days at Portman Road and the player himself has already stated he wants to play at the highest level and apparently expects to be moving in the summer.

Liverpool Reportedly In Negotiations With PSV Eindhoven For Ola Toivonen

Liverpool representatives have reportedly met with PSV Eindhoven to discuss a deal for Ola Toivonen, according to reports.

The Swedish international forward was heavily linked with an Anfield move back in the summer, and was again thought to be on the radar of the Merseysiders in January.

Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur have also taken an interest in the past, according to reports, but it's Liverpool who is now thought to be in pole position to land the player.

The Metro claims Liverpool are looking to 'thrash out a deal' for the 24-year-old, who can also play in an attacking midfield position.

Toivonen began his career with Degerfors before moving to Örgryte and then Malmo. Two years later, a transfer fee in the region of €4.5 million was paid by the Eredivisie side to bring the player to Holland, and the striker has flourished at the Phillips Stadium.

With 13 goals so far this season, the player's stock continues to rise and the rumours have re-surfaced that the Reds are once again interested in a move.

Kenny Dalglish has hinted at a number of personnel changes at Liverpool this summer, with another striker thought to be on the agenda despite spending in excess of £55 million on Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in the last transfer window.

Whilst a left back and winger are the reported priority, Fenway Sports Group have vowed to back the Liverpool boss financially should he stay on permanently and Toivonen could be one of the players on the wishlist.

Lucas Leiva Agrees New Deal To Keep Him At Anfield Until 2015

Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva has put an end to any doubts over his Liverpool future by signing a new, long-term contract that will keep him at Anfield until 2015.

The 24 year-old has emerged over the last two years as one of the club’s most improved players and the club’s newly-appointed director of football, Damien Comolli, revealed that tying him to a long-term deal was a priority after his arrival on Merseyside last year.

The former Gremio player had made no secret of his desire to extend his stay at the club, despite facing fierce criticism for his early displays, and manager Kenny Dalglish admitted on Wednesday that the affection was mutual.

“He is happy to be here and to be playing for the club,” said the Scot.

“He is getting everything he deserves at the moment, including being a fixture in the Brazilian team, because of how he has performed on the pitch.

''Certainly since I came in he has been a great asset to the team and has done tremendously well.

''We're delighted for him because he's a really honest, genuine fella and that's reflected in the way he plays.

Lucas, after struggling more than most during Liverpool's slump in form last season believes the club can now start to look forward to regaining their place among Europe's elite.

''Everyone wants to be in the Champions League again and to win titles,'' he said.

''That is what Liverpool is about. The way everything is going I think it will be a very good next few seasons.

''We have some new players who have come here and that shows we are moving in the right direction.

''I am pleased with the way Liverpool tried to keep me and now I want to keep doing my best for them.

''For me it was an easy decision because I know how big Liverpool are and I can see Liverpool are committed to me and are planning for a future with me.

''I don't think people thought I could stay here for so long, but now I want to just keep on improving.''

Ian Ayre: New Uefa Rules On Spending Should Be Hard And Fast

Uefa’s new financial fair play rules will be ‘killed’ if they are not applied equally across Europe, according to Liverpool’s incoming managing director Ian Ayre.

Ayre, who also confirmed Liverpool are pursuing naming rights for any new stadium, is concerned there will not be a level playing field when the rules come into force in 2014.

The regulations will ban clubs from European competition if they spend more than they earn, but the rules will initially be enforced by national associations and leagues.

Ayre says Liverpool’s recent takeover by American John Henry has cleared most of their debt so the club would comply with the regulations.

But he said: ‘These rules should be rules and should be hard and fast.

'What will kill the initiative or certainly stifle it is people easing themselves into it rather than the rules applying and everyone operating within them.

'You cannot have a half-rule process.

‘We see it as a positive step but the reservations around it are how it will be applied.

‘Will people be given grace periods, will sanctions be applied?

‘If it is not managed well, we would all question the outcome of it.’

Uefa’s head of club licensing Andrea Traverso said the rules were ‘a sort of soft salary cap’ and insisted they would be overseen by an independent panel to ensure it was being applied fairly.

Alberto Aquilani Open To Liverpool Return

Alberto Aquilani believes that the Premier League is the best domestic league in the world and is open to a return to Liverpool when his loan period with Juventus ends at the end of the season.

The 26-year-old joined the English giants in the summer of 2009 from Roma but after a disappointing time at Anfield came back to Italy, this time to play for Juventus on loan for the 2010-11 campaign.

Aquilani has improved in Turin and regained his fitness levels, but his future beyond the summer remains unclear. Juventus are having yet another disappointing campaign and are likely to make changes at the end of the season, meaning that a number of players’ futures are uncertain.

Juventus will also have to pay Liverpool £14 million to make Aquilani’s deal permanent and there has been no concrete indication from the Italian giants that they will do so.

Aquilani, though, is not hell bent on staying in Italy and is open to a return to Liverpool to play “in the best league in the world.”

"The future? I'm at Juve, but I don't know what will happen,” the Italy international told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I'm on loan and if I'm not retained I'd go back to Liverpool in the best league in the world. We'll see."

Aquilani is also coy about going back to his old club Roma and reveals that he is following the ownership changes at the Lupi.

"It is a delicate question,” said the midfielder. “I would do, but I think it will be difficult. As a fan I'm curious to see what happens, especially if they begin to buy players and to revolutionize the team."

Aquilani’s agent Franco Zavaglia is also keeping all options open and has reiterated that the ball is in Juventus’ court.

“I have been saying the same thing for months and it is the only truth, regardless of what the newspapers say,” he told Tuttomercatoweb. “Last year, when the transfer was set out and Juve were happy to accept this deal, there were commitments made with written clauses.

“If the Bianconeri respect these agreements, then fine, otherwise he will have to return to Liverpool. It is up to the Juventus directors to decide.”

Aquilani has been a regular for Juventus this season and has made 26 appearances in Serie A, scoring twice and providing three assists.

Christian Poulsen Desperate To Depart Liverpool

Christian Poulsen is desperate to quit Liverpool this summer after being warned his international career could be over if he remains on the fringes at Anfield.

Despite being captain of Denmark, the out-of-favour Liverpool midfielder was left on the bench on Tuesday night and given a blunt message by national coach Morten Olsen.

The 61-year-old said: 'I don't know if he is going to get in the Liverpool team during the remainder of this season, but if he isn't, he will not be in my squad for the Euro qualifying game against Iceland on June 4.'

Poulsen has struggled to win over Liverpool fans since being signed by former manager Roy Hodgson at the start of the season.

While there is interest in Poulsen in Italy and Spain, he could remain in the Barclays Premier League by linking up again with Hodgson at West Brom.

Lawyers For Thomas DiBenedetto Confirm There Is No Conflict Of Interest With Liverpool In Roma Takeover

Thomas DiBenedetto will assume control of Roma as agreed, as lawyers working in relation to the takeover confirm there is no conflict of interest with Liverpool.

On Wednesday, The Guardian reported DiBenedetto's assets in New England Sports Ventures - the company that owns Liverpool - could jeopardize the takeover as it reportedly breached UEFA rules which state it's forbidden for "persons or clubs to control or influence more than one club registered for European competition".

However, the legal team working on the takeover, which is expected to be completed in three weeks, have said there is no conflict of interest.

Speaking to the Ansa press agency, a legal team representative said: "There is no case in relation to UEFA's article three of their regulations, and there is no conflict of interest in relation to the Roma takeover."

It follows yesterday's statement which confirmed DiBenedetto had agreed to purchase Roma from their holding company Italpetroli.

The statement said: "Italpetroli S.p.a., UniCredit S.p.a. and Di Benedetto AS Roma LLC announce that negotiations in Rome over the past few days have reached a basic agreement to buy up control of AS Roma S.p.a.

"Based on this agreement, the buy-out should be completed by a company made up of 60% Di Benedetto AS Roma LLC and 40% UniCredit S.p.a.

"There is also an option for UniCredit to sell their shares to other strategic Italian investors.

"Over the next few days we will proceed to write out the definitive versions of the agreements reached today, which also include commitments for the reinforcement and future development of AS Roma."

Roma will become the first Italian club to come under foreign ownership once the takeover is complete.