Sport Football Why a cryptocurrency company’s bid to buy Perth Glory is causing major confusion

Why a cryptocurrency company’s bid to buy Perth Glory is causing major confusion

Perth Glory midfielder Neil Kilkenny in action. Photo: Getty
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The bizarre saga surrounding the potential sale of A-League premiers Perth Glory has not slowed, with confusing messages from the club, owner Tony Sage and representatives of prospective owners clouding the situation of just what exactly is happening in the west.                    

Sage, a Western Australian businessman who made his fortune in mining, on Wednesday confirmed he was on his way to Britain to finalise a sale of 80 per cent of the club to London Football Exchange (LFE), while retaining a 20 per cent stake and the chairman’s role.

“We’ve been negotiating,” Sage told 6PR Radio in Perth that day.

“I don’t know how it leaked, but obviously lawyers talk, and I’m in Dubai now on my way to London and hopefully it’s signed in the next few days.”

So, who is LFE?

Launched in 2018, LFE seeks to use cryptocurrency to create a “football stock exchange” in which buyers could acquire shares or purchase merchandise and experiences direct from football clubs.

The group plans on buying several clubs of its own in an attempt to mirror the multi-club ownership model of City Football Group.

LFE had no qualms about declaring the deal done, putting out its announcement on Wednesday that it had entered into an asset sale and purchase agreement to acquire a majority shareholding in Glory, pending Football Federation Australia [FFA] approval.

LFE founder Jim Aylward also released a video regarding the deal.

A post on February 13 on Glory’s website – since deleted – also announced the sale, running with a headline “London Football Exchange announce deal to buy Glory”.

The move was met with widespread incredulity and scepticism, especially after news came to light that LFE had attempted to buy French clubs Nice and Nantes in 2019 only to be denied after failing to provide minimum bank guarantees – Nantes’ ownership raising concerns over the group’s “seriousness and credibility”.

On Thursday, proceedings took another twist when Sage, in a statement on the Glory website, gave himself plenty of room to back out of the deal as he vociferously declared no deal had been completed.

“Any new concept that people don’t get, we are all sceptical about – myself included – hence my trip to London for three days to check them out,” he wrote.

“LFE’s concept is brilliant, but will it work?

“I don’t know and that’s why I am spending three days with their team in London with independent experts.

“If, after this due diligence process, the final deal in London is not good for PGFC, of course PGFC won’t sign up.

“If [Glory] do sign up nothing (sic) changes at Perth Glory other than with extra funding, we will be able to compete with the bigger clubs in Australia and Asia.

“Finally, don’t believe fake news. Your club has not been sold and I have not even sent anything to [FFA] for approval.”

English-born Sage’s declarations he did not know if the model put forward by LFE was feasible raised more eyebrows, given that he was named LFE’s chairman in January.

Before flying with his side to Tokyo for Glory’s first AFC Champions League game against FC Tokyo, Perth coach Tony Popovic declared the incident was not a distraction for him and his players.

“It’s not affecting [preparations], so I’m not concerned,” Popovic said.

“It’s in the media, it’s news. Whenever you talk about ownership changing, it’s a headline. The players are fine.”

But while it may not be affecting the players, it has served as a needless distraction for the wider football community at a time when the focus should be on Glory’s historic Asian tilt.

Will the deal go through? Watch this space.

The secret to success

Emily van Egmond has hit near career-best form in recent times, and Melbourne City boss Rado Vidošić thinks he knows why.

After a horror run with injuries in 2018, the 26-year-old moved to City in 2019 and has recaptured some of her best form for club and country.

“One thing that I asked her to do was to be more intensive,” Vidošić said on van Egmond’s improvement.

“We challenged her to get more involved – change the pace. Be more explosive, get more involved.

“It came to a moment; I think one game she had 90-something touches on the ball. She was everywhere.

“But I think the biggest thing with her involvement with the Matildas is she didn’t play as six, she played as a 10 and I think that’s her role to a tee.

“She can hurt opponents more if she’s closer to the goal, she can score, she can set up goals.

“There’s still a challenge for her to be more intensive. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, but run the fastest you can go, and run as often as you can go.”

City’s big derby win

Van Egmond and her City teammates downed cross-town foes Melbourne Victory 4-0 on Sunday, putting one hand on the W-League Premiers’ Plate.

As it stands, Sydney remains the only side that retains a mathematical chance of catching City – but that would require Vidošić’s side to lose against Western Sydney and Brisbane Roar.

Such circumstances are unlikely, to say the least.

Though at one point appearing to be title contenders, Western Sydney has been in freefall in recent weeks; the conclusion of Irish superstar Denise O’Sullivan’s guest contract extracting a heavy toll.

These problems are set to be compounded with the news on Sunday that American star Lynn Williams is set to depart the club to focus on national team duties.

Brisbane Roar lost Hayley Raso to an overseas move in recent weeks and was downed 4-2 by Perth Glory on Sunday.

Boring in Ballarat

Western United and Brisbane Roar may have been playing with massive A-League finals implications on Sunday, but you would not have known it.

The two teams combined to put in one of the most boring performances of the season, neither willing to expose themselves to any sort of risk.

Eventually, it was an error from new United signing Tomoki Imai – although the support provided to him by his teammates left much to be desired – that allowed Mirza Muratovic to score and continue Robbie Fowler’s Roar rejuvenation.

A-League scores

Friday: Adelaide United 2-0 Central Coast Mariners

Saturday: Wellington Phoenix 1-0 Melbourne City; Western Sydney 1-1 Newcastle Jets

Sunday: Western United 0-1 Brisbane Roar.

W-League scores

Saturday: Sydney FC 3-0 Western Sydney Wanderers

Sunday: Perth Glory 4-2 Brisbane Roar; Canberra United 3-1 Adelaide United; Melbourne Victory 0-4 Melbourne City.

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