by Kevin Kelley. The City of Burlington announced September 30 that an agreement had been reached with CitiCapital to extend the period of forbearance ‘ set to expire on the 30th ‘ to October 29, 2010, with respect to payments under Burlington’s lease-purchase agreement with CitiCapital for Burlington Telecom. Negotiations between Burlington and CitiCapital are ongoing and will continue during the forbearance period, according to a statement from Joe Reinert, Assistant to the Mayor.As Burlington Telecom conducts these life-or-death negotiations with its creditor, the city official at the center of the drama says he is optimistic about BT’s future and is unapologetic about the decision to build a publicly owned fiber optic network. ‘We’re laying the groundwork for increases in customers, revenue and profitability for Burlington Telecom,’ Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold said in a September 21 interview.Asked if that means the city is likely to retain control of BT, Leopold said ‘not necessarily,’ but declined to comment further about the status of talks with CitiCapital. He also would not reveal the contents of a proposal that Burlington has made to CitiCapital for stabilizing the finances of the city-owned telecom system.The lender agreed in July to a 90-day period of ‘forbearance’ in regard to the nearly $1.8 million in principal and interest payments that the city has failed to make over the past nine months. That deadline now has been extended another 30 days in an attempt to make a deal.BT owes CitiCapital a total of $33.5 million. The creditor could move to take control of the telecom system if the city remains unable to make good on that debt.Burlington Telecom also owes a city cash pool $16.9 million that was borrowed over the course of two years in order to keep the operation afloat. That arrangement ignited a political firestorm. State officials said BT violated its licensing conditions by failing to repay that money and by leaving Burlington taxpayers potentially liable for a debt that the city was prohibited from incurring in the first place.In a September filing with the state Public Service Board, Burlington admits it failed to honor its obligation to repay the cash pool within two months. The city also acknowledges that it violated another state licensing condition by not putting the full BT fiber-optic network in place by mid-September 2008. Nearly 2,000 addresses in the city are still outside the reach of the BT system.‘In hindsight, there definitely were mistakes,’ Leopold said in the interview in his City Hall office. But he strongly defended the city’s decision to establish its own telecom network, arguing that the private sector has shown itself unwilling to invest in top-quality networks in small states such as Vermont.The city was ‘very successful,’ Leopold said, in installing ‘state-of-the-art fiber-optic technology’ in most of BT’s potential service territory. The city was less successful, however, in making BT a viable enterprise, partly because attention was focused until late in 2007 on building the telecom network.‘We’ve seen in the years since then that there is a steep learning curve’ for city officials without extensive experience in running a profitable telecom business, Leopold added.A private company might have been better run, but it would never have made the sort of investment that put BT on a par with the most advanced telecom operations, Leopold continued.‘If you’re a private telecom firm with $50 million to invest, are you going to put it in a place like Manhattan or Boston, or are you going to put it in a thinly populated state like Vermont?’ Leopold asked rhetorically. ‘If government doesn’t get involved, it just won’t happen here.‘The private sector model [for telecom expansion and upgrades] has been demonstrably unsuccessful over the past 20 years,’ he declared, citing studies showing telecom networks in the United States lagging far behind those in some European and Asian countries that have committed public funds to network development.High-speed telecom systems should be seen as ‘the critical infrastructure of the 21st century,’ Leopold suggested. And he drew an analogy to the interstate highway system that was critical to US economic development in the 20th century. Government built that nationwide road network because the private sector would not or could not, Leopold noted.He also sees irony in the $171 million federal subsidy recently provided to three private telecom companies in Vermont for broadband development. (See accompanying story.) ‘Burlington taxpayers are prohibited from subsidizing BT, but it’s perfectly all right to take $171 million in public money and give it to private enterprise,’ Leopold observed. ‘How does that make sense?’Source: Vermont Business Magazine.
However, their one step forward, two steps back existence has persuaded Poyet that his message is simply not getting through to some of the players, and that is a situation he insists will not be allowed to continue. The 46-year-old said: “Me, I am the head coach, I coach the players I have got the best I can. “For moments, it looks like we are getting it and getting better, and for moments, it looks like I am coming from another planet, which is difficult to accept. “The best teams in the world play one game, one game. They know why they are playing, what they are playing for and everybody does the same. “If you go on the pitch and everyone is playing their own game, it’s impossible. “I have said to you many, many times, it is not a tennis match, it’s football and it’s 11 and there are players we normally think are able to do things, and we are learning more and more that they are not able to do it. “That’s the only good news today, I have got a good report on some players who are not able to play a certain way, which is going to be difficult for them because we will play that way, so the problem is for them.” The Black Cats have already signed Fiorentina full-back Marcos Alonso on loan for the rest of the season and are currently deep in negotiations with Brighton for midfield duo Liam Bridcutt and Will Buckley. The Black Cats undid their good work over Christmas with a 1-0 home defeat by Aston Villa on New Year’s Day which left them still propping up the rest of the Barclays Premier League and four points shy of safety. Villa’s visit to the Stadium of Light heralded a run of games the Wearsiders consider winnable and therefore, an opportunity to ease themselves up the table and out of danger. However, Poyet knows the men already under his charge will be largely the ones who will have to do the job if the club is to preserve its top-flight status, and his message to them is stark after a seventh home league defeat of the campaign. He said: “We had more of the ball, we had more shots, but we didn’t create enough because we tried to do it too much as individuals and not as a team. “I said it two months ago: there are not going to be heroes here, we are all in it the same and we will all be safe or we will all go down. “Apparently, some people don’t get it. They try to play their own game and they try to be in their own position and they try to do things that are not acceptable. “It’s a difficult day for me, I need to be careful what I say.” Ironically, skipper Lee Cattermole’s determination to carry out Poyet’s orders led to the decisive moment in Sunderland’s latest reverse. The Uruguayan has urged his players to retain possession and to pass their way up the field, but it was the midfielder’s failure to control Valentin Roberge’s 15th-minute square ball deep inside his own half which allowed Gabriel Agbonlahor to round keeper Vito Mannone and score the game’s only goal. Until that point, the Black Cats had been the better side, and although Agbonlahor’s intervention severely dented their confidence, they thought they had dragged themselves back into the contest seven minutes after the break when Emanuele Giaccherini struck from Steven Fletcher’s knock-down, only for the tightest of offside decisions to ruin his celebrations. Villa should have wrapped up the win as the clock ran down with Christian Benteke and substitute Marc Albrighton twice going close, but a single goal ultimately proved enough. The win left the visitors level on points with 10th-placed Hull, and match-winner Agbonlahor is hoping it will provide a platform for a new year push. He told the club’s official website, www.avfc.co.uk: “We have had a hard couple of weeks and to get a few points on the table is always important. “It has put us up to joint 10th, so it gives us a little bit of breathing space. It’s a good way to start the new year and we have got to continue it. “We had a lot of chances and could have won the game by three or four. But we will take the result and move on to the next game against Sheffield United.” Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has warned his players it will be his way or the highway as he attempts to dig the club out of relegation trouble. Press Association
Related Articles TVBET passes GLI test for five live games in Malta and Italy August 25, 2020 Share Share Kambi takes full control of LeoVegas sportsbook portfolio August 26, 2020 StumbleUpon Submit Björn Nilsson: How Triggy is delivering digestible data through pre-set triggers August 28, 2020 Updating the market, LeoVegas Group AB has informed that Johan Styren has officially stepped down from his leadership position as CEO of LeoVegas Gaming Ltd (Malta subsidiary).A founding team executive, Styren has led LeoVegas Malta operations since 2012, joining the mobile first operator from Unibet Plc.LeoVegas governance informs that Styren will continue as a director of the company until 30 June, helping the operator during its transitional period. At present, LeoVegas will handle Styren leadership responsibilities within the framework of the existing organisation.Gustaf Hagman, Group CEO and LeoVegas co-founder personally thanked Styren for his contribution to company growth and strategy.“Johan has been very valuable to LeoVegas, primarily by being part of building our business in Malta. Johan has been part of creating what LeoVegas is today and I want to thank him for his amazing effort during his 5 years at LeoVegas. I wish him all the best in the future,” said Hagman.Leaving LeoVegas’ executive team, Styren commented on the firm: “When I started at LeoVegas 2012 we had just launched and had no customers. Today we are market leaders.”“Since then, we have managed to build the world’s best mobile casino, added sports games and live casino, listed on Nasdaq First North and made LeoVegas one of the best gaming companies in the world. After more than five fantastic years, I feel it’s time to move on to new challenges.”