Tuesday 24 June ~
Freddy Shepherd has been mercifully quiet for a while but he might be on the verge of a reappearance. Possibly feeling that he has been away from the boardroom spotlight for too long, in the last few months he has been linked with a takeover at a number of English clubs including Leeds Utd, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield Wednesday. Yet it is now being reported he is looking to buy his local team, Real Mallorca. According to Shepherd himself: "All I can say is that we're in discussions. We live in Mallorca most of the year – and they have always been our second team."
The Spanish club's president, Vicenc Grande, has put his 93 per cent of the club’s shares up for sale for €40 million (£32m). Shepherd could certainly afford this, having sold his stake in Newcastle to Mike Ashley only last year. This may be a simple vanity rumour – Newcastle have a scheduled pre-season friendly against Mallorca next month. Though if it did contain any truth it would interesting to see how Newcastle's new owners were welcomed in Palma, especially in the light of Shepherd's continuing “ban” from St James's Park. You fear for Mallorca, if the night life of Maguluf isn't bad enough, the oldest club in the Balearic Islands having their red shirts replaced by black and white stripes and a rash of Geordie theme bars opening would surely be the final straw.
Shepherd's old club have been priced out of one optimistic transfer target by the Euro 08 form of the player himself – Andrei Arshavin. Having inspired Russia to the semi-finals the Zenit St Petersburg player is now rumoured with a move to a different Champions League club on a daily basis. The English press, emboldened by the Sky corporation's “the Premier League is the best in the world” mantra, must have been deeply shocked when the Russian had the audacity to tell Spanish newspaper AS that: "I know that I have offers from England and Germany, but what I would really like is to play in the Spanish League, in the Primera Division. It's the championship I've always followed, I like the football they play there. But, at the moment, I don't have any offers from Spain."
So while England is second choice for the world's best players this won't worry the Premier League accountants. It was announced yesterday that Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal made a combined £102m from last season's Champions League, a figure that doesn't include gate receipts or matchday revenue. UEFA spokesman William Gaillard seemed shocked by this: "We are well aware there are some imbalances in the revenue distribution which have a negative effect in national leagues by widening the gap between the rich and not so rich." Though the current agreement is in place until 2012 UEFA intend England's top four to accept smaller amounts when the new deal is agreed. We wish them luck.