Soccer-Sporting and Benfica take rivalry to world of finance

LISBON, Sept 24 Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:06pm IST

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LISBON, Sept 24 (Reuters) - Portuguese Premier League soccer club Sporting launched a scathing attack on Benfica on Monday, saying their Lisbon rivals were "technically broke" and had no right to meddle in Sporting's troubles.

Sporting, who have admitted to financial difficulties, took offence at remarks by Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira, who said last week some Portuguese clubs must have found "a magic formula" to survive while posting financial losses year after year.

"He made a reference to Sporting's 'millionaire losses'. Sporting and their fans do not take lessons from Benfica's president," Sporting said in a statement posted on the club website (www.sporting.pt).

"Benfica's liabilities are the biggest ever in the history of Portuguese football," the club said, adding that Benfica were "technically broke".

Benfica declined to comment on Sporting's statement.

According to their listed company filing, Benfica posted a loss of 12 million euros ($16 million) in the period from July 2011 to June 2012 and their liabilities totalled 426 million euros, an 11 percent rise from the previous year. Benfica's assets were 412 million euros.

Sporting are looking for investors to improve their financial situation and posted a loss of 46 million euros in the same period - a four percent rise driven mainly by player purchases.

Sporting were among 23 European clubs to have UEFA prize money withheld because of overdue payments to other teams, their own employees or social and tax authorities, European soccer's governing body said this month.

Benfica host Barcelona next week in the second round of Champions League Group G, where they are also drawn with Celtic and Spartak Moscow. Sporting were drawn in Europa League Group G alongside Switzerland's Basel, Racing Genk of Belgium and Hungary's Videoton.

($1 = 0.7743 euros) (Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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