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AHEAD OF THE GAME: FIFA is experiencing a sponsorship boom ahead of the Women’s World Cup and Birmingham takeover news

AHEAD OF THE GAME: FIFA is enjoying a sponsorship boom ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup… while the sale of Birmingham City is being delayed amid fears the bid will be backed by Russian money

  • FIFA is seeing an influx of sponsors interested in the 2023 Women’s World Cup
  • The Birmingham City takeover was hit by claims that the bid was backed by Russian money
  • Chelsea’s new majority shareholders have seen investment from Saudi Arabia
  • But the Blues did well to hire “general manager” Tom Glick for their team
  • For the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates, click here

FIFA was inundated with sponsorship offers for next year’s Women’s World Cup after the European Championship, after deciding to sell the commercial rights to the tournament as a standalone event for the first time.

For the previous 2019 World Cup in the United States, FIFA did not offer sponsors bespoke packages with all the branding provided by companies that have been long-standing retail partners of the Men’s World Cup, such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa.

FIFA is convinced that the Women’s World Cup is now economically attractive enough to stand on its own two feet and the strong expressions of interest expressed to date suggest that they are likely to be confirmed.

The success of the Women’s Championship has prompted sponsors to approach FIFA about the World Cup

Russia fears Hit Brum offer

Birmingham City’s protracted takeover is further delayed amid fears the bid by local businessman Paul Richardson and former Barcelona striker Maxi Lopez could be backed by Russian money.

The EFL are in the process of investigating the source of the duo’s funding after receiving a tip that some of it may have been provided by Russian business interests in Cyprus.

The Cypriot government has forged close ties with Russia in recent years, with the island earning the nickname “Moscow on the Mediterranean”.

The EFL may refuse to take over if a Russian connection is made.

Richardson and Lopez paid a £1.5million deposit last month to proceed with a bid that values ​​Birmingham at £36.5million but will need to secure additional funds to move forward with the deal.

Birmingham City have been valued at £36.5million but the takeover could be hit by allegations

Birmingham City have been valued at £36.5million but the takeover could be hit by allegations

Saudi link puts spotlight on new Blues owners

Chelsea’s new controlling shareholders, Clearlake Capital, have secured billions of dollars in investments from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, owners of Newcastle United.

Clearlake owns 60 per cent of Chelsea after the £4.25billion takeover earlier this summer led by LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly.

Chelsea sources told Sportsmail there was no Saudi involvement in Clearlake’s purchase of the club, allaying concerns over a potential conflict of interest.

However, the revelation will raise further questions about the source of Clearlake’s funding and will highlight a lack of transparency around the extraordinary takeover sparked by the sanctioning of Roman Abramovich following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Clearlake committed at least £2.55billion to Chelsea in a takeover led by Boehly, who also bought a stake in the club alongside his business partner Mark Walter and Swiss entrepreneur Hansjorg Wyss.

The US-based private equity firm manages around $80 billion in assets worldwide on behalf of around 300 investors.

PIF invests in several other private equity firms as well as in Clearlake.

The Premier League was sufficiently confident in Clearlake’s funding source to quickly approve the deal after the government finally gave the green light in May.

Chelsea made some efforts to demonstrate that no Russian money was involved in the transaction, but did not publicly disclose that Clearlake has Saudi investors.

The Premier League has been widely criticized for allowing the Saudi takeover of Newcastle despite acting on the government’s explicit advice.

Chelsea also received a Saudi offer for the club, but the offer from Saudi Media Group around Mohamed Al-Khereiji didn’t make the club’s shortlist.

Chelsea and the Premier League declined to comment.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is investing in Chelsea's shareholder Clearlake Capital

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is investing in Chelsea’s shareholder Clearlake Capital

President Glick a good choice

Chelsea’s appointment of Tom Glick as ‘Business President’ at Stamford Bridge has caused considerable cheer among existing staff, many of whom now refer to one another as ‘Mr. President.”

Despite the cynicism surrounding his job title, Glick’s recruitment to run Chelsea’s commercial operations elsewhere in football is viewed as a feat.

During his time as Manchester City’s chief commercial officer, he was highly regarded and credited with transforming the financial fortunes of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL.

Chelsea's new 'business president' Tom Glick has previously worked with Manchester City

Chelsea’s new ‘business president’ Tom Glick has previously worked with Manchester City

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