Inside Lines: Gift-bearing Greek tycoon may seek Crystal Palace takeover

 

The shipping tycoon Evangelos Marinakis, president of top Greek side Olympiakos, has renewed his interest in joining the foreign legion of club owners here. Premier League newcomers Crystal Palace could become a target next season if they go down.

Sources close to Marinakis say he is again eyeing an opportunity to break into English football, relishing a fresh challenge after turning around the fortunes of Champions League club Olympiakos, and Palace fit the bill. I understand he is being advised by his friend Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, a South African of Greek origin, and would like a working relationship between Olympiakos and a Championship side.

Uefa rules prohibit him owning a Premier League team unless he relinquishes control of Olympiakos, who have won 15 of the last 16 Greek League titles. Ownership of an English club might also see a more philanthropic approach to sponsorship. Rather than the dubious moneylenders and betting firms, his Olympiakos feature the UNICEF logo, with the club aiming to raise €2m (£1.67m) from charity events in the next two years for UNICEF's child immunisation programme.

Big, bearded and flamboyant, Marinakis, 45, turned down offers to buy Glasgow Rangers or a share of Milan. He was also once believed to be interested in West Ham. He has a house in Hampstead and is an ardent Liverpool supporter, providing Olympiakos as the opposition for Steven Gerrard's testimonial game in August, and personally donating £100,000.

DeGale's high Five

The 2008 Beijing Olympic boxing champion James DeGale has not been the happiest of bunnies this year. Overshadowed by the pro debuts of the golden boys from 2012, Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell, he has seen George Groves, the rival he calls "that ugly ginger kid" leap-frog him to an all-British world super-middleweight title shot against Carl Froch in Manchester on Saturday week.

Equally annoying was seeing mouthy stablemate Tyson Fury hog the headlines for a fight that never happened (against David Haye). Is he bitter? Well, just a bit. But he vows to punch his way back next weekend when he fights American Dyah Davis in Kent. "My career has been on hold," admits 27-year-old "Chunky".

"But now there'll no more treading water. I've told my promoter [Mick Hennessy] fingers have to be pulled out. I'll definitely fight for a world title next year. And the Davis fight is live on Channel 5, which means an audience of a million or more, not a few thousand."

Expect a DeGale force win.

Blown Sky high

One significant item neither Sky News or ITV were covering in their bulletins yesterday was BT's stunning near £1billion heist of Champions League football from 2015. But it should be no surprise that Uefa had elected go down the extra-terrestrial route.

The writing was on the box when they recently awarded exclusive rights in France to subscription network beIN Sport, owned by Qatar-based TV broadcast giants Al Jazeera. While BT's coup is a severe embarrassment for Sky it is a killer blow for ITV Sport, left with no live club football from 2015, with BBC and BT Sport having the rights to the FA Cup next season.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

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