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Saudi-Led Consortium Pulls Out of Newcastle Takeover Bid; East Bengal Players to Approach AIFF Seeking Due Salary and More (Football Round-Up)

Short Passes (Football News Round-up): Newcastle United takeover fails due to the backing out of Saudi-led consortium | East Bengal players to approach the All India Football Federation (AIFF) after non-payment of dues by QEBFC | Swiss launch criminal probe of FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, further seek investigation of AG | Laos footballer banned for life over match-fixing | Vietnam prepares to host AFC Cup matches in Southeast Asia
Newcastle United takeover bid falls through

The Saudi consortium pull out from the takeover bid is a huge blow to the Newcastle fans, who had hoped this would rid them of the much disliked current owner, Mike Ashley.

A Saudi Arabia-led consortium withdrew their bid to buy Newcastle United late yesterday. The consortium, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, businesswoman Amanda Staveley and the Reuben Brothers, had seen their bid left in limbo for months as the Premier League assessed its validity and processed the permissions for them to go ahead

The decision is a huge blow to the Newcastle fans, who had hoped this would rid them of the hugely disliked current owner, Mike Ashley. The decision is being welcomed by other fans, and campaigners, many of whom raised their voice against the takeover citing human rights abuses by the Saudi regime involved with the bid.

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The consortium in a statement said, “With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United football club.

"Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable,” the statement further added.

"As an autonomous and purely commercial investor, our focus was on building long-term value for the club, its fans and the community as we remained committed to collaboration, practicality and proactivity through a difficult period of global uncertainty and significant challenges for the fans and the club.”

East Bengal Players Seek Dues

Several East Bengal players have taken the decision to approach the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Players’ Status Committee asking for salaries that are still unpaid by the club’s former investors, Quess Corp.

On April 25, earlier this year Quess used the Force Majeure clause to unilaterally terminate player contracts from May 1. The players, some of whom had a multi-year contract and others who have their one month salary pending, sent a notice to Quess East Bengal, regarding the same.

Earlier this month, after a prolonged battle with the club authorities, Quess terminated the agreement handed over sporting rights back to the club.

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"They sent the letter to Quess on Tuesday. They have now terminated their contracts with them and that needed to be informed. The delay in sending the notices was due to a clause in the players' contracts, which said any correspondence would have to be sent physically. Now they will approach the AIFF Players' Status Committee who will be the arbitrator in the matter of their pending dues," a source close to the development told IANS.

With contracts yet to be paid out and a 100 year anniversary on the horizon, East Bengal have been sluggin on many fronts. The club have taken a step towards finalising their plans for the season appointing 38-year-old Francisco Jose Bruto Da Costa as the coach for the upcoming season. Da Costa was assistant manager for NEUFC in the ISL in 2016 and has also served as assistant manager of the Indian U14, U17 and U19 sides.

Swiss Launch Infantino Probe

A special prosecutor involved in the probe against Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber and FIFA President Gianni Infantino launched criminal proceedings against the head of world football and has asked to open proceedings against Lauber, Swiss authorities announced on Thursday.

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Lauber offered to resign after the court came to a conclusion that he, in fact, hid details of a meeting with Infantino and lied to supervisors while his office investigated corruption surrounding FIFA. Both Lauber and Infantino have denied the allegations.

The authority overseeing Lauber's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said that special prosecutor Stefan Keller found activities related to criminal conduct in their meeting.

“This concerns abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and incitement to these acts,” the AB-BA watchdog overseeing the OAG said in a statement.

Laos Footballer Banned

The Asian Football Federation (AFC) on Thursday handed Laos national team footballer,  Thipphonexay Inthavongsa a life ban for match-fixing.

Inthavongsa has been found guilty of plotting to manipulate an international match result between Hong Kong and Laos in October 2017.

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The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) disciplinary panel banned the 28-year old from participating in any activities associated with football.

While details of the breach have not been revealed, the AFC has informed their decision to the Laos Football Federation and decided to request FIFA’s help in extending the ban across the world. 

Laos has previously had other cases of match-fixing. National team players Khampheng Sayavutthi and Lembo Saysana in February were also found guilty for the same offence in the same game in 2017. Both were served life bans.

Vietnam Set to Host AFC Cup  

The AFC has confirmed Vietnam as a centralised host for two AFC groups in the Southeast Asia zone for the AFC Cup. 

Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City will host Group F matches. Group G ties will take place in Quang Ninh's Cam Pha Stadium. The ties will be held over three days between September 23-29.  The host for Group H in Southeast Asia is still yet to be confirmed.

The South Asia Group E matches will be hosted in a centralised venue in the Maldives scheduled from October 23 to November 4. 

The AFC Cup, which is organised by the AFC annually has been suspended since March in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

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