|Baseball-BayStars sale goes down the drain|
Friday, 29 October 2010 13:08
Reuters - The sale of troubled Japanese baseball club Yokohama BayStars has collapsed after a row over relocating the team to the north of the country.
Building equipment and bidet-toilet makers JS Group insisted they would still be interested in acquiring Yokohama if the current owners relaxed conditions on the team's sale.
"We may have jumped the gun but we thought we would be free to run the team from next season with zero conditions," JS Group chairman Yoichiro Ushioda told Japanese reporters on Thursday.
"The price was fair and we still believe the club has an extremely high value," added Ushioda, whose company had wanted to move the BayStars to the opposite coast of Japan.
"If there are circumstances in which our support can bring about a significant improvement (in the management of the club) we would very much like to do it."
Tokyo Broadcasting System Holdings, who were hoping to sell their 70 percent stake in Yokohama to the JS Group, opposed plans to uproot the BayStars.
The breakdown of the JS Group's proposed buyout of TBS's 70 percent means the financially pressed TV network is likely to be forced to run the loss-making franchise for another year.
BayStars president Takao Kaji welcomed the news the team, which finished last in the Central League for the third year in a row with Japan's worst record, would be staying put.
"I'm delighted the franchise will continue to play in Yokohama," he said. "I've been told TBS will continue to back the team. I hope we can implement the necessary changes to make this a healthier organisation."
TBS will have to stump up another 2 billion yen ($24.48 million) next season to finance the team in line with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) rules.
Any sale of a Japanese baseball team must be approved by rival owners and by the NPB's executive committee before Nov. 30.
NPB commissioner Ryozo Kato blamed the economic downturn for Yokohama's plight.