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Mittals eye soccer club

Sofia, Dec. 4 (Reuters): Pramod Mittal, brother of steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, is on the verge of completing the purchase of Bulgarian premier league club CSKA Sofia.

Steel giant Global Steel Holdings (GSHL), which controlled 71 per cent of Bulgarian steel mill Kremikovtzi, is run by Pramod and Vinod Mittal, the younger brothers of Lakshmi Mittal.

Lakshmi Mittal controls the world’s largest steelmaker Mittal Steel, who acquired rival Arcelor for $32 billion earlier this year.

“There is an agreement of principle between the current and the potential owner,” Pramod Mittal’s adviser Alexandar Tomov said. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

CSKA, one of the most famous Bulgarian clubs, was bought in 2000 by Vasil Bozhkov, who is considered the richest man in the Balkan country.

Bozhkov, however, angered CSKA supporters by sacking Serbian coach Miodrag Yesic in April and that decision was followed by frequent disputes between the fans and the club’s management.

Last season, CSKA shut one end of their ground following abusive chants aimed at the club’s owner and officials.

“The potential owner’s goal is not only the Bulgarian league title but reaching (the) European level,” said Tomov, who is a former Bulgarian vice-premier.

“This club is an institution. CSKA are 30-times Bulgarian champions, they have one million fans. Football in Bulgaria just can’t exist without CSKA.”

Tomov would become a director of the club since chief executive Stefan Ormandzhiev has already declared his intention to leave when the acquisition is completed.

“I can help the club. It needs a new way of financing and it’s necessary to accumulate resources,” said Tomov.

The Sofia-based team’s chief scout Dimitar Penev also confirmed Mittal is close to becoming the new owner of CSKA. “They are working on it and there will be more information about the deal on Tuesday,” he said.

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