(WFI) World Football Insider rounds up the 10 things you need to know about the global football business today.

EPL players down the pecking order in pay league
English Premier League footballers earn less than those playing at
Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, according to a global
survey comparing wages in the world’s major sports leagues reported by
the Daily Telegraph. Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees head up
the list of highest-paid sports stars (each earning £89,897/$134,470 per week in
2009) in the inaugural annual Review of Global Sports Salaries. Real
Madrid and Barcelona are ranked second and third, with the newspaper
quoting that Real’s players earned an average of £81,444 per week (£4.2
million a year) and Barca’s footballers £78,231 per week (£4.1 million).
Chelsea and Manchester are placed are No. 4 and No. 14 respectively,
but Arsenal and Liverpool don’t even make the top 30 which is dominated
by US basketball and baseball teams. The survey reveals that the Premier
League is only the world’s fourth richest sports league by average
earnings (£28,230 per player per week, or £1.47 million a year). David
Beckham earned $6.5 million from the LA Galaxy last year.

Eriksson to manage Ivory Coast at World Cup
Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson returns to the
international spotlight following his appointment on Sunday as the new
coach of Ivory Coast for the World Cup in South Africa. After his recent
stint as director of football of English League Two side Notts County,
Eriksson now faces the more challenging task of guiding Ivory Coast
beyond the group stages of the World Cup for the first time. It’ll be a tough job for Ivory Coast, with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea their
opponents in Group G. “He will lead the team at the World Cup where his
objective is to ensure an honourable participation,” said a statement
from the country’s football federation. The Swede, who led England to
the quarter-finals of the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, takes over from Vahid
Halilhodzic who was sacked after Ivory Coast were knocked out in the
quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup in January.

Government considers fans’ ownership plan
Britain’s ruling Labour Party are considering a plan to give football fans the opportunity to buy a stake in their club amid growing concerns over increasing levels of debt at Premier League clubs and foreign ownership issues. According to a report by the BBC, such a proposal, dismissed as a “gimmick” by the Conservative Party, may find its way into Labour’s election manifesto.

Chinese title holders Beijing open 2010 campaign
Defending Chinese Super League champions Beijing Guoan kicked off this season’s campaign with a 2-0 victory over newly-promoted Nanchang Bayi at Workers’ Stadium. After 11 matches, the CSL takes a on May 30 as China will play France away in a friendly on June 4 and will resume after the World Cup on July 14. Further breaks are scheduled in September and October to allow the national team to prepare for 2014 World Cup qualifiers. Sixteen teams are competing in the seventh CSL season, which concludes Nov. 6.

Red Bulls Arena hosts first MLS game
The New York Red Bulls edged the Chicago Fire 1-0 in their first Major League Soccer match at the new $200 million Red Bull Arena. With a crowd of 24,572, the Red Bulls boast a home field advantage for the first time in the franchise’s 14 year history following a ground-share with NFL teams at Giants Stadium. Head coach Hans Backe believes the atmosphere generated by passionate fans at home games, as witnessed

Red Bulls fans cheer their team on at the new $200m arena (All photos Getty Images)

on Saturday, is worth “six or seven points” over the season. 

Ban on Ajax fans removed for Dutch Cup final
Authorities in Rotterdam have lifted a travel ban on Ajax fans attending Feyenoord’s De Kuip Stadium for the Dutch Cup final between the teams. A five-year ban was imposed on both team’s fans last year following violent confrontations between rival supporters. But the mayor of Rotterdam has agreed to make an exception for the April 25 cup final, saying it was an oppoirtunity for fans to “show that this can be a great advert for the game” The Holland-Belgium 2018/2022 World Cup bid will also be hoping that supporters behave themselves and do not spark headlines about hooliganism that could have a negative impact on the campaign. The only time the fierce rivals have met in the cup final was in 1980 when Feyenoord won 3-1.

Marseille end trophy drought
Olympique de Marseille celebrated their first major trophy in 17 years after beating FC Girondins de Bordeaux 3-1 in the French League Cup final at the Stade de France. The French club’s last piece of silverware came in 1992/3 when they won the inaugural edition of the UEFA Champions League.

Asian football attendances on the rise
The Asian Football Confederation’s AFC Champions League is going from strength to strength, setting a new attendance record after the third match day. A total of 5,51,077 fans have watched the 48 matches played in Asia’s premier club competition , averaging a record of 11,481 per game. Iranian champions Esteghlal’s 3-0 victory over Qatar’s Al Gharafa attracted a record 60,000 fans to Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. The tournament was inaugurated in 2002-03. The confederation’s AFC Cup is also on target to post record attendances this year.

Women’s Professional Soccer prepares for kick-off
The second Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) season in the USA kicks off April 10. The league increases to eight teams with two new expansion teams: Atlanta Beat and Philadelphia Independence. The 24-game regular season extends into September for the first time (running through Sept. 12). WPS, which notched average attendances in 2009 of around 4,600 fans, inaugurates three stadiums in 2010, including Atlanta Beat’s new stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia – the first-ever stadium built specifically for a WPS team with a capacity of 8,500. Philadelphia Independence will be playing at West Chester University, while FC Gold Pride play at the newly renovated Pioneer Stadium at Cal State-East Bay. The WPS All-Star Game takes place June 30 in Atlanta. The league is the successor to the Women’s United Soccer Association, which folded in 2003 following financial difficulties. The six returning teams playing in the 2010 season have reportedly increased sponsorship sales by an average of more than 150 per cent and ticket sales by an average of more than 17 per cent.

Title sponsor for Soccerex Asia
Global betting giant, SBOBET Isle of Man, has secured title sponsorship of the inaugural Soccerex Asian Forum that takes place in Singapore (July 28-29). In addition to sponsoring English Premier League club West Ham United, SBOBET is also principle sponsor of Cardiff City. SBOBET offers over 500 sporting events every week incorporating approximately 1700 markets including extensive coverage of all major soccer leagues and international sporting events. Soccerex CEO Duncan Revie said that “signing a deal with a company of this calibre is a huge endorsement to our company’s brand and I look forward to working with SBOBET to maximize the success of our Asian Forum”. For more information on the Asian Forum call +44 (0)208 742 7100 or visit www.soccerex.com/asia

reporting from Mark Bisson (
[email protected])

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