Silvio Danailov: "Our lawyers are studying the case"

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Silvio Danailov is still considering to take FIDE to court for the way they treated the Bulgarian bid to host the 2012 Candidates Tournament. "Our lawyers are studying the case and preparing the report," says the President of the European Chess Union.

Silvio Danailov

Last Friday we posted an opinion article on the recent Andrew Paulson interview by Raymond Keene, and pointed out that many questions are still left to be answered about the new cooperation between FIDE and Agon. Another person who likes to know more about all this is Silvio Danailov, President of the European Chess Union (ECU) but also FIDE Presidential Board member.

On February 26th we reported that Danailov had reacted strongly to the recent developments around FIDE and the World Championship cycle. At Chessdom, he threatened to take FIDE to court for the way they treated the Bulgarian bid to host the 2012 Candidates Tournament:

I will not allow such a mockery. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan have made their bid on time, while London does not have such. As a member of the FIDE Presidential board no one has informed me about any contracts. Ilyumzhinov can talk what he wants. When I see on paper the contract with Agon, with lawyers we will go to the CAS Sports Court in Lausanne. The Bulgarian Chess Federation worked long on this bid, we have talked to sponsors, ministers, and even the Prime Minister.

Now that everything seems to be official, and the Candidates Tournament is going to be held in London from October 24th till November 12th, we asked Silvio Danailov whether he's still thinking about suing FIDE. He sent us the following document, which entails the questions he raised at the recent 1st quarter FIDE Presidential Board meeting in Al Ain, UAE about the newly created company Agon. (We've corrected obvious spelling errors.)

Dear all,

My lawyers have checked the Agon Ltd company on the public register in Jersey and informed me the following:

1. Agon Ltd was founded and registered officially on January 12th 2012(!). We received the draft of the contract in December last year. That’s mean that the draft was prepared about a month before the company was founded. This is a bit strange for me.

2. Nobody knows who is the beneficent owner or the share holders of Agon Ltd. According to the papers the share holders are two companies, Ogier Nominees (Jersey) Limited and Reigo Nominees (Jersey) Limited. The name of Mr. Andrew Paulsen [sic] doesn’t appear anywhere.

If I am FIDE I would like to know who is the owner of the company I am signing contract with. Also FIDE is signing with just founded company without any activity so far (!?)

On the contract its self there is some controversial and unclear moments. Let me mention some of them.

A: Point 3.1 . Agon Ltd is sole and exclusive organiser of the most important and commercial FIDE events. In my opinion it’s a bit risky to give this rights to the completely unknown company without any activity.

B: About the Interface team. This team is of 4 members, two from FIDE and two from Agon. What will happen if 2-2 votes, who’ll have majority ?

C: The two FIDE members of the IT will have too much power, where is the role of the FIDE PB on this case? The Presidential Board will be out of any important decisions in the future. Where is the logic here ?

D: FIDE start’s to receive royalties on 2016. Why so late? Also is absolutely unclear when FIDE will receive those royalties? There isn't any maturity specified in that contract. There is nothing concrete or penalty in case of delay of the payments on the contract about this matter.

Hope my remarks can be useful.

Best regards,

Silvio

Danailov's questions seem to be right on the spot. Agon was founded very recently, and only after FIDE and Andrew Paulson had been making plans for months already. Hence, a company without any history or track record, and whose owners are not known, is given the right to organise two World Championship cycles. It is also unclear who exactly will be (legally) responsible for running the whole thing, and how the decision making process will take place.

Danailov told us that thus far he hasn't received a clear answer. He said that he got the following reaction from a FIDE official about the issue of Agon's shareholders:

They told me literally: 'Don't worry, when FIDE signs the contract with Agon, they will tell us know who are the shareholders!' This was an explanation for kindergarten. Imagine a serious world organisation like FIFA or other signing a contract for commercial rights of their most important events with an offshore company with unknown share holders? Come on, give me a break!

We also asked Danailov something else. In the Keene interview, Andrew Paulson stated:

But finally in December the agreement was circulated to the FIDE Presidential Board which approved it unanimously at its meeting in February in the United Arab Emirates.

Since Danailov is a member of the Presidential Board, we asked him whether this was correct. Danailov denied this:

The agreement was not approved unanimously because there was no voting.

According to Danailov the bidding process didn't go 100% according to the regulations:

I don't really care if FIDE wants to sign contract with Agon or somebody else. They have won the elections, they are the government and this is their business and their responsibility. What I care about is to respect the bidding procedure and the regulations. Till the official deadline of January 31st there were two bids, from Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. There was no bid from London and the contract with Agon was not signed. So, logically the Candidates Tournament can be only in Bulgaria or Azerbaijan. Agon can organise everything else after the Candidates.

Does this mean that Mr Danailov is still thinking about taking FIDE to court? To this question, he replied to us:

Our lawyers are studying the case and are preparing the report. We have time, because so far the Bulgarian Chess Federation didn't received any official information either from FIDE or from Agon when and where will be the Candidates Tournament. The information published on their website is not relevant for the lawyers.

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