Indian businessman eyes Racing Santander

MADRID - An Indian businessman has become the latest non-Spaniard to attempt to buy into La Liga and is in talks to acquire Racing Santander, a heavily indebted club based in the north of the country.

Ahsan Ali Syed, the founder and chairman of Western Gulf Advisory Asset and Wealth Management (WGA), aims to complete the Racing deal by January 24, his office said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ali Syed failed in an attempt to buy English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers last year and his takeover bid in Spain follows the purchase of Malaga by a member of the Qatari royal family at the end of last season.

A Mexican businessman is also trying to buy Real Oviedo, a former first-division club that has dropped to the third tier, local media have reported.

"Having studied several options from various countries in the last few months, Real Racing Club de Santander has fit into my strategy as it is a well-managed club with a long-term potential," Ali Syed said in a statement.

The Racing bid is part of a strategy of investment in sport, which will be managed by an Amsterdam-based company he owns, WGA Sports Holding.

"Sport has always been a good investment opportunity, especially if it is combined with passion and dream," he said.

"Football is not only an investment for me but my personal passion. So owning a football club and watching my team play has always been my dream."

The statement from Ali Syed's office contained no financial details.

FAMOUS FAN

Racing have a famous fan in Spanish golfer and local resident Seve Ballesteros and have come under foreign control before.

They are currently majority owned by Francisco Pernia, who became club president in 2006, following in the footsteps of Ukrainian-born American businessman Dmitry Piterman, who was president between 2003 and 2004.

The colourful Piterman hit the headlines when he clashed with the soccer federation (RFEF) over his attempts at coaching the team himself despite not having the correct permit.

Racing representatives were not immediately available to comment on Ali Syed's proposed purchase.

His bid to buy the club will need the backing of the regional government of Cantabria, which has loaned the club millions of euros.

The club has suffered the financial problems affecting many of their Spanish peers and a study by a University of Barcelona accounting professor published last year showed it had total debts of almost 140 million euros.

"This sale could be interesting as long as certain conditions are met," Cantabria government official Angel Agudo told local media.

"Firstly, this entrepreneur has to be solvent. Secondly, that we have confidence in the project."

Agudo's third point was that the conditions governing the government's loan to the club must remain the same.

Racing are 14th in La Liga, four points above the relegation places.


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