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Cambodian businessman ‘to buy Polish giants’

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Wisla’s home is a 34,000-seat stadium on Krakow’s Reymonta Street. AFP

Cambodian businessman ‘to buy Polish giants’

A CAMBODIAN businessman is set to become the saviour of financially beleaguered Polish football giants Wisla Krakow after recent reports that a Cambodian-British consortium is closing in on a takeover of the club.

The syndicate is reportedly led by Ly Vanna, a previously unknown Cambodian businessman.

A conditional agreement with a Luxembourg-British syndicate of investment funds was signed on Tuesday and will be finalised in the coming days, said Sport Company Wisla Krakow, Reuters reported.

“As far as I am concerned, an agreement was signed today with an investment fund, behind which are Cambodian investors,” president of the city of Krakow Jacek Majchrowski told Reuters.

“The fund is specialised in restructuring and then selling.”

A club spokeswoman declined to comment to Reuters on Wisla’s new owners.

The details of the contract are strictly confidential, news site PolandIN reported. The contract will become effective over the next few days.

Founded in 1906, Wisla are one of the most successful sides in Polish football, having won the Polish top-flight Ekstraklasa 14 times, most recently in 2011.

This was the last of eight championships won since 1991 in an incredibly successful modern period.

They reached the quarterfinals of the European Cup in 1979 and share Poland’s greatest rivalry with Legia Warsaw.

However, the club has suffered financial difficulties recently and are said to owe short-term debts of around 40 million Polish zlotys, around $10.7 million.

The new owners have pledged to pay $3.2 million by next Friday, with the rest of the short-term debt to then be dealt with, PolandIN reported. A further $34.8 million has been promised to be invested over the next 12 months to save the club.

Asian businessmen have become involved in European football over the past few years, most famously the Thai owners of Leicester City. A Chinese investment company is the backer of Leicester’s Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Cambodian tycoon Vanna is said to own shares in Czech giants Slavia Praga and Portuguese top-flight outfit Vitoria Guimaraes, according to football agent Adam Pietrowski, likely Wisła’s new sports director.

He also has shares in MLS side New York City and Japan’s Yokohama FC, and others in Argentina and Brazil, PolandIN reported.

Aside from this, little is known about the investors.

Vanna reportedly heads the Alelega fund, which has an office in Luxembourg, and is said to become the majority shareholder with a 60 per cent stake, PolandIN said.

British company Noble Capital Partners, which specialises in the trade of company assets, is to control the remaining 40 per cent.

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