Manchester United executives and owners ring the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange

U.S. investment firm increases stock in Manchester United, pours $150 million into club

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While struggles on the pitch have hampered Manchester United’s season in 2013-14, off the pitch the English powerhouse seems to be going from strength to strength.

On Tuesday it was announced that American investment firm Baron Capital had purchased more stock in Manchester United and now owns a quarter of all the shares available in the club on the New York Stock Exchange.

Many people will hear this news and start thinking about a potential takeover bid from Baron, but the Glazer family had only released 10 percent of the club to the NYSE, while the other 90 percent is still in their hands. So, in essence, Baron only owns 2.5 percent of United with their $150 million stake.

Baron Capital’s investment ties in with recent trends around United’s financial success, as the club is widely expected to sign a new $1 billion deal with Nike and on Monday their share price has risen to its highest level since November at $15.84 per share.

Man United confirmed the shareholding in their investor relations website, where is states Baron Capital now owns 9,581,636 shares, which are worth $151m based on current share prices. While on Baron’s website, they had the following to say.

“Shares of Manchester United dropped … due to a delay in the signing of a new global merchandise deal with Nike and the team’s poor performance on the field. The Nike deal is still expected to be signed, but has been pushed out from this fiscal year. We remain positive on the company’s prospects going forward.”

Good news for United all round, as the financial world realizes now is a good time to invest in the club as on-field problems have lowered share prices in recent months. With the club pushing forward with an aggressive pursuit of top talent, it seems as thought investors are gambling on the Red Devils returning to the top of the Premier League and challenging for European titles in the not so distant future.

As we know, soccer is not as cut and dry as that, but if the markets are anything to go by, good time are ahead for Manchester United.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

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Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?