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French firm to steer Solna's Friends Arena

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16:53 CET+01:00
A French company is set to take financial responsibility for Friends Arena, after the Solna stadium posted losses of 600 million kronor ($94.6 million) in its first year of operations.
French company Lagardère Unlimited Stadium Solutions announced on Tuesday that it would take the stadium off the hands of the Swedish Football Association.
 
"Now that the infrastructure and processes are in place, the arena is established and it is the right time to go further by letting an external experienced partner to look after operations and developments ahead," Karl-Erik Nilsson, the head of the association, said in a statement. 
 
The French team was confident it could tackle the losses head on, and turn profitable before long. 
 
"We're not the nice guys from Paris who are coming with a big sack full of money. We're convinced that the arena will see a substantial profit within the next year," the company spokesman told reporters on Tuesday. "There will not be any losses. We know the market."
 
Lagardère was behind nine of the 12 stadiums for the Fifa World Cup in Germany 2006, and all but one of the stadiums in Poland in 2012. It plans to take over Friends Arena on January 1st next year.
 
The local council was pleased with the news. 
 
"It's positive to be handing over the Friends Arena to a strong international event organizer. It creates conditions for the Friends Arena to be competitive internationally," Pehr Granfalk, chairman of the Solna municipal board, said in a statement.
 

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The Friends Arena was opened to the public in November 2012 when Sweden's national men's football side thrashed England 4-2 on the back of a stunning game for captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic. His bicycle kick goal from 25 metres out was considered by many to be one of the great goals of all time. 
 

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