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Nick Harris: The Premier League demands answers on Pollyana Chu's Birmingham deal

16 Jan 2011 00:09:49

Nick Harris: The Premier League demands answers on Pollyana Chu's Birmingham deal

The Premier League have written to Birmingham City demanding clarification over why they have not been told about the stake taken in the club's parent company, Birmingham International Holdings, by Hong Kong casino billionairess Pollyanna Chu. Speculation on fan websites reached fever pitch last week amid claims that Chu now owns 70 per cent of BIH. In fact, she took a 14.11 per cent stake in December but that move has not been declared to the Premier League, as their rules dictate. Although that level of ownership would not mean Chu having to take the League's 'fit and proper person' test - 30 per cent is the threshold - they would want to be assured of Chu's background. Raising her stake: Chu (left) has taken a large stake in the parent club which owns Birmingham She has had several run-ins with Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). She suspended her own dealing licences in 2003 after being accused of market manipulation and was fined in 1997 for working as an unregistered dealer. As Inside Sport reported last week, the club's most recent accounts show they need owner's loans to stay afloat this season and face major problems if relegated, a scenario for which no plan is laid out in the accounts. BIH's shares remain suspended on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange without explanation. In response to Inside Sport's questions and the League's letter, Birmingham released a statement saying it takes time to identify individuals behind investing companies. Yet they know Chu well: she provided bridging finance for the original takeover. Concerned fans have asked the League to look at historic trades in BIH shares, and the League are understood to want to know how and why Chu's mother, Ma Siu Fong, apparently owned 44.7 per cent of the holding company, albeit briefly, in October 2009, without notification.   All the gossip, ball-by-ball...India's frenzy in the run-up to the cricket World Cup, which starts on the sub-continent on February 19, was boosted by reports last week that 32-yearold Bollywood pin-up Veena Malik is considering three offers to present TV coverage of the tournament. Pakistani actress Malik, who has just made waves in India's version of Celebrity Big Brother, said: 'This will further cement my position in India.' But the real spice in the story is the fact that she is the former girlfriend of Pakistan cricketer Mohammad Asif, who awaits a verdict on spot-fixing charges. World-class: Malik is weighing up three offers to host cricket's forthcoming showpiece Malik has already gone public on gambling in Pakistan cricket. Now broadcasters want her to spill the beans and add gossip to their ball-by-ball cover   More from Nick Harris... Nick Harris: Birmingham tempting fate with their financial plans08/01/11 Nick Harris: Bosses 'broke own rules' over Tottenham's Olympic bid01/01/11 Nick Harris: Gambler in spot-fix claim is linked to England stars25/12/10 NICK HARRIS: Undercover Spooks on job for London 2012 Olympic terror alert18/12/10 Nick Harris: David Beckham eyes Olympic glory with 'home' run 11/12/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE  England's pulling power is slipping...THE Football Association's new deal with Vauxhall - worth £6million a year within a four-nation £10m-ayear 'Brit pack' deal - is especially impressive as England's international pulling power has dropped. Analysis of the popularity of international teams shows Brazil have retained No 1 global status - in terms of people who watch them on TV around the world - but England have lost their No2 spot and now trail Germany and Argentina. That conclusion comes in a detailed report into global TV viewing figures for the 2010 World Cup, by analysts Initiative Sports + Futures. They say: 'England's appeal has been based on the country's status as the birthplace of the game and the immense global popularity of the FA Premier League (but) England have slipped out of the top three.' Germany's rise is attributed partly to their free-scoring style, but also to the team's 'diverse ethnic composition, boosting interest in all those countries from which its players originated, including Ghana, Poland, Tunisia and Turkey'. The FA may take solace in their new 'supplier' contracts with Lucozade and Marks and Spencer, which are worth £500,000 per year plus goods.  After years of complaints that snooker's flagship World Championship final starts too late on the evenings of its May Bank Holiday conclusion, the BBC will change the schedules for this year. Rather than begin the Sunday and Monday evening sessions at 8pm, with play starting even later, the action will start at 7pm. The decision comes partly because head of sport Barbara Slater took her son to last year's final and a sleeping late-night child made the situation personal. Elsewhere in the game, former star Peter Francisco, banned for five years  after a 1995 bets sting, asked independent mediators Sport Resolutions, who handled the  recent John Higgins affair, to re-examine his case. But in the politest possible terms, Francisco was told that would not be possible. Sport Resolutions had no jurisdiction at that time - and it was considered that the contemporary investigation was emphatic in its findings.  Explore more:People: John Higgins, Barbara Slater Places: Birmingham, Tunisia, Argentina, Germany, Ghana, Turkey, Poland, United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Brazil Organisations: Football Association


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