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Sporting Lisbon Sees UEFA Sanction Hitting Business Deals

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Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Sporting Lisbon, a money-losing Portuguese soccer club that’s seeking investors, said its business negotiations may have been affected after the sport’s European ruling body UEFA froze its prize money.

The club’s bargaining position “may have slightly diminished,” Sporting said in a statement late yesterday, without referring to any specific negotiations.

The Nyon, Switzerland-based governing body said Sept. 11 that Sporting is among 23 teams to have prize money withheld after investigators identified “important” overdue payments to other clubs, employees or tax authorities.

Sporting hasn’t missed any payment deadlines and UEFA should rectify its comments as soon as possible “to avoid bigger damage” to its business, Vice President Jose Filipe Nobre Guedes said in the statement.

Sporting, the former club of Cristiano Ronaldo, eliminated Manchester City on the way to reaching the semifinals of last season’s Europa League. It won the last of its 18 Portuguese titles in 2002.

The UEFA sanction applies to this season’s prize money. Sporting is again in the Europa League, with its first group game against Basel on Sept. 20. UEFA requested the 23 clubs, which also include Atletico Madrid, to provide an update on payments by the end of the month.

Publicly traded Sporting lost money in 12 of the last 13 years, with debt reaching 375 million euros ($484 million), an internal audit in February showed.

Sporting plans to expand its youth academy abroad and has made contacts with regards to business partnerships in Angola, China, the U.S., United Arab Emirates and India, according to an earnings report published Sept. 7.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at aduff4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net