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Who owns what? The extent of foreign investment in Australian football

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Australia’s ‘A-league’ has grown considerably in recent years, yet still lurks in the shadows of the AFL and NRL – unable to attract the sponsorship and audience of the country’s major sporting codes.

Despite this, the A-league has attracted a swathe of foreign investors who view the league as a small, burgeoning market, ripe for foreign investment and growth.

But exactly how deep these investments run throughout the league remains unclear.

A recent investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners revealed that almost half of the clubs in the A-league are owned by foreign investors – each with a peculiar backstory.

The program exposed the foreign entities funding Melbourne City, Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar, as well as the unknown Dutch consortium backing Adelaide United.

Last seasons premiers Melbourne City (formerly Melbourne Heart) were famously snapped up in 2014 by the City Football Group, (CFG) the sports investment company headed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak (left) pictured with owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (centre) and vice-chairman Simon Pearce (right)

CFG own a majority stake in a range of clubs around the world – its flagship team Manchester City is a footballing giant on the English and European stage.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and vice-chairman Simon Pearce, aside from their football interests, are both senior advisers to the Abu Dhabi government.

Al Mubarak also serves as an adviser to the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is deputy supreme commander of the nation’s military. 

‘Sportswashing’ accusations levelled at foreign investors

The United Arab Emirates have long been criticised by humanitarian organisations for human rights abuses, as well as the ‘soft power’ strategy employed by the government to portray the country as a progressive nation.

Amnesty International has called for urgent action in the A-league, accusing the City Football Group and its owners of ‘sportswashing’: using the positive publicity garnered by the success of their clubs to rehabilitate their nation’s image.

Melbourne City is one of several CFG clubs, including Manchester City, that are being used to promote next month’s World Expo in Dubai.

The Bakrie Group seized control of the Brisbane Roar in 2011.

Brisbane owners linked to match-fixing scandal

Brisbane Roar is fully owned by an Indonesian conglomerate known as the Bakrie Group, who have extensive mining, banking and agriculture interests.

Their purchase of the Roar in 2011 marked the first time an A-league club would be fully owned by a foreign entity.

The head of the Bakrie family is Aburizal Bakrie, an Indonesian politician and former chairman of the infamous Golkar political party, widely known for its history of corruption.

The Bakrie Group own Brisbane Roar through an Indonesian holding company, Pelita Jaya Cronus.

A director at the company and former acting chairman of the Indonesian soccer association, Joko Driyono, was charged in 2019 for interfering with evidence in a police investigation into match-fixing in Indonesian football.

Joko Driyono is a director at Pelita Jaya Cronus, the holding company of the Brisbane Roar.

Driyono served an 18 month prison sentence and has since been released, resuming his position on the board of directors at Pelita Jaya Cronus.

It is uncertain as to whether competition regulator Football Australia is aware of how closely connected Driyono is with Brisbane Roar, or if they are aware of his connection to the club at all.

Exactly how much money foreign investors have injected into the A-league isn’t publicly available

Football Australia relinquished control over the A-league last year, handing commercial control back to the clubs.

The wealthy business owners and global consortiums with controlling interest in clubs were given direct say in how the competition and their teams would be financed.

There are currently no figures which track investments into teams, and A-league clubs operate as private companies who aren’t required to disclose financial statements.

This leaves an obscure and often complex paper trail which poses a significant challenge to transparency and accountability in Australian football.

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Why Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport will cap passenger departures

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Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is capping the number of departures until next year

The airport says airlines “are not happy about it” but ultimately had no choice.

It follows a string of airport chaos over the busy summer period in The Netherlands and Europe more broadly.

Caps are expected to extend through the end of March. But authorities will review the situation again towards the end of this year.

The aviation business continues to be plagued by labor shortages on the back of the pandemic.

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Food delivery drone crashes into powerlines

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Thousands of people have been left without power after a food delivery drone crashed into powerlines

Power was restored after 45 minutes after the drone made a pre-cautionary landing.

‘Wing’ is the company behind the incident who use drones for their food delivery services.

A spokesperson for Energex, the company who supplies power to the 300-affected homes says drones can be dangerous.

It’s believed these instances are very rare and the meal was still hot when emergency crews arrived at the scene.

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Huge win for millions caught up in Optus data breach

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Major news for those impacted by the Optus data incident, with authorities working around the clock to get to the bottom of the saga

Is this a sigh of relief for Optus customers?

It is a major win for those who have been impacted by the massive Optus data breach.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed the telco giant will cover the costs of replacing affected customers’ passports, a move he has labeled as entirely appropriate.

The hacker released the personal details of more than 10,000 people on an online forum, before removing the post.

This is evidently a costly move for Optus, but one which many Australians have been calling for.

On the other side of the coin, it will also be a massive undertaking for the nation’s passport office which has been slammed recently as Aussies head back overseas post-Covid.

This comes as the Australian Federal Police launches an operation to support the data breach victims.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough says affected customers will receive “multi-layered protection from identity crime and financial fraud”.

As the investigation continues, Australian authorities will also be leaning on their international counterparts for assistance, including America’s FBI.

It’s a massive operation and one that many Australians and indeed people right around the world are watching closely.

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