Australia keen on Andres Iniesta as a marquee star

Andres Iniesta is in big demand after he announced he is leaving Barcelona. (AFP)
Updated 09 May 2018
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Australia keen on Andres Iniesta as a marquee star

  • A-League clubs have a $2.2 million 'marquee fund'
  • Football Federation Australia plan to contact Iniesta's agent

SYDNEY: Australian football chiefs plan to contact the agent of Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta to sound him out about a move to the A-League, reports said Wednesday, as the domestic competition looks to recruit a marquee star.
Spain’s Sport website named the A-League as the World Cup-winner’s “preferred destination” this week, although Japan’s Vissel Kobe is also seen as one of his possible next moves.
China’s Chongqing Lifan Tuesday denied reports that the 33-year-old legend will be joining them “as a player,” but left the door open to future cooperation in some capacity.
Football Federation Australia’s website indicated the governing body planned to contact Iniesta’s agent after he announced he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season following two decades of phenomenal success.
A-League boss Greg O’Rourke said four Australian clubs have signalled their intent to make use of a recently announced Aus$3 million ($2.2 million) “marquee fund,” which could be used to lure a player of Iniesta’s calibre.
“We will determine with (the clubs) how this is going to work — do we go out and use $3 million to go and hook one big fish, or three small ones?” he told reporters.
“There’s some history that would say that (Alessandro) Del Piero, when he was here with (Emile) Heskey and Shinji Ono was actually quite amplifying.”
The A-League most recently had a centralized “guest marquee” fund in 2016, but it attracted only one player, Tim Cahill, whose stint at Melbourne City did not pull in the crowds and boost TV ratings as hoped.
O’Rourke said if a move for Iniesta was unsuccessful, other targets would be drawn up.


Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

Updated 22 July 2019
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Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

  • Princess Nourah thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future

RIYADH: Princess Nourah bint Saad has officially become the first Saudi woman to be president of a sports club. Italian news outlet Corriere Della Sera reported recently that the princess had successfully acquired the Umbrian football club Spoleto.

Speaking at a press conference, the princess thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future. 

“Football is a family passion, and Italian football is followed all over the world. This is why I chose to invest in Umbria,” she said. 

Princess Nourah chose the team after considering several aspects. “Spoleto is a small, amateur football organization where it is possible to work with the aim of growing and aiming for promotion. But we cannot fail to consider the value and beauty of the city of Spoleto, which is famous throughout the world.” Spoleto is a member of Serie D of the Italian non-professional football association, Lega Nazionale Dilettanti.  The association represents more than 12,000 football players and 400 football teams across Italy and is considered the fourth-ranked league in the country. Under the princess’s presidency, the team aims to ascend to Serie C in the near future, and further in the long term.

Spoleto announced that they have formally registered for the Excellence Umbria 2019/2020 championship and the Regional Junior Championship 2019/2020.

This purchase marks the Saudi royal family’s second venture into sports club ownership. Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad co-owns English Premier League football club Sheffield United.