Real Madrid to commence Santiago Bernabéu upgrade

Real Madrid’s president, Florentino Pérez, has authorised a financing plan to support the continuing refurbishment of the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, asserting that the project will “change the history” of the LaLiga club.

Following an emergency general assembly meeting, Real Madrid revealed that a proposal to extend the club’s board of directors’ authority to incur debt in order to fund the works had been granted.

There were 1,569 votes in favour, 25 against, and 38 abstentions out of the total of 1,632 polled. The permission came after it was revealed that Real Madrid were looking to borrow an additional $396 million to pay stadium renovations, which Pérez has now confirmed.

The Bernabéu is now undergoing the most extensive renovation in its 75-year history, with Real Madrid unveiling a new retractable roof on September 2. The renovation is expected to be completed in the following weeks, with a big reopening celebration planned for right before Christmas.

Pérez spoke on what the upgrade meant for the prestigious club via press release:

“The new Santiago Bernabéu stadium is going to change the history of Real Madrid. We have seen the pride it provokes in all Real Madrid fans when we are already achieving the culmination of a dream that will mark our destiny.

“We have to be aware of the adverse circumstances in which we have had to undertake this immense challenge. For all this, we have had to undertake the remodelling of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in the midst of one of the worst historical situations in the world economy, which has had a very special impact on the construction industry.”

Last season, the Bernabéu’s capacity was limited to roughly 63,000 people. The attendance for this season’s first match was about 67,000, and after the rebuilding project is done, the stadium’s full capacity will be back around 80,000.

According to real projections, the increase in revenue from the stadium’s full commercial availability will begin in January 2024 and proceed gradually. As a result, the club expects stadium revenues to climb significantly, with further increases expected in 2024-25, when the renovated Bernabéu is fully operational.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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