Roundup of great news for the week

It's big sports events season…
We're midway through the AFC 2015 Asian Football Cup. Tennis has been live on two Seven channels. How did you like Federer's 1000th win at Brisbane?  The Australian Open is underway. The Tour Down Under is pumping. In the tread of tests with India and England  plus the Big Bash, we'll soon have the ICC World Cricket Cup.

The AFC 2015 Asian Football Cup is going well, great venue turn-outs, good TV audiences, valuable engagement of cultural groups and business interests. The opening match in Melbourne was sellout while the largest crowd in the first days, over 50,000, was for Australia v Oman at Stadium Australia in Sydney. And now Australia moves ahead after winning against China.  Marvellous.

Pity about the Brisbane pitch quality which seems to have marred some impressions – and probably fairly so. We wrote recently about the poor quality of playing surfaces for international events in some Asian venues and really didn't think an Aussie venue would be 'lumped' with those. 
Credit: Image above, AFC match at Brisbane, by Ethan Rohloff Photography,

What’s happened to the sports edge of SBS?  They were the big soccer/football broadcaster for the FIFA World Cup, but they ain’t got that gig for the AFC 2015 Asian Cup. That’s now delivered by the ABC.
Now, Cycling Australia has ditched SBS to reveal details of an unprecedented two-year broadcast partnership with the Nine Network and FOX SPORTS. The partnership, which runs to the end of 2016, will see road, track and mountain bike showcased on both the free-to-air network and subscription service Foxtel via a combination of live and delayed scheduling, and event highlights packages. Cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in the country – there are some 4 million riders.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced a new partnership with ANZ as the Official Bank in New Zealand for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

Separately Cricket Australia has tied up with Apple to deliver cricket broadcasts through the Apple TV platform. This is one outcome of Cricket Australia’s $60 million digital joint venture with Nine Network – part of a $550 million cash and contra broadcast rights agreement with Nine and Ten – that was signed in 2013. A dedicated cricket channel will be created on Apple’s TV ­network to show highlights, news ­packages, historic matches and player interviews – and to carry advertising.
In parallel, Cricket Australia and Nine sell digital subscriptions to consumers for live match coverage and information for mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers.

Cricket Australia has been listed as finalist in two categories of the Sports Technology Awards to be decided in the UK in March. Well done guys. 

By the way, did you see the "you'll never lamb alone" advert featuring Richie Benaud? Here you are, CLICK HERE

Telstra-Populous-ANZ Stadium
Telstra’s Populous-designed “Connected Lounge” at ANZ Stadium has also been included as a finalist in two categories of the Sports Technology Awards, conducted in the UK.  This is regarded as the outcome of an imaginative design and business relationship … an imaginative and totally immersive game day experience for fans to attending a live sporting event.  The former stock standard hospitality suite at ANZ Stadium has been converted into an interactive technology centre delivering content simultaneously using several platforms and held for the 2014 NRL Grand Finals.

“The redesigned lounge is not intended as an exclusive corporate event, rather it’s meant to be the epicentre of fan engagement, creating brilliant experiences for our fans and customers.  We wanted to use technology to bring fans closer to the action, keeping them “connected” in an environment and atmosphere that was exciting”, said Telstra’s Group Media Manager, Matt McCann. “We wanted to create something different and now we want to roll this out in every Stadium in the country.  The idea is to cement our position in sport and make the fan experience at the live event even better than it is already.”

US Soccer widens its scope
Now is this evidence of the growth of popularity of soccer in the US? Or just serious competitiveness to use stadia that have been built across the country?  Or both, maybe.  US Soccer has revealed the long-list of cities interested in hosting games during the Copa America Centenario in 2016, the 100th anniversary of CONMEBOL, South America’s soccer association. The US was announced as the host of the special tournament in May last year.

Twenty-four metropolitan areas of the US have expressed interest in staging games. Final proposals will be made by mid-March. The winning cities will then be revealed in May, with US Soccer anticipating between eight to thirteen stadiums to be used in total; each to have a minimum capacity of 50,000.
The full list of interested cities are: Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Washington DC, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Kansas City, St Louis, Greater New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Nashville, Dallas, Houston and Seattle.

The Copa America will be staged as normal later this year, with Chile playing host, before the Copa America Centenario takes place on 3 – 26 June, 2016. Brazil and Ecuador have already been confirmed as hosts of the Copa America in 2019 and 2023 respectively.

"Emerging giants" invest in soccer and sport
Repucom has published "Emerging Giants", a report that examines the trend of investment in sports sponsorship from the Middle East into European soccer and from Asia into US sports franchises.  Middle-Eastern investment in top-level sports around the world with no sign of any slowdown. Across Europe, US$1.5 billion has been spent by Middle Eastern investors and groups on team ownership, while in the last two years alone, Asian businessmen have invested approximately US$1.1 billion in US sports franchises, the report says.

English football clubs Manchester City, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest all have Middle Eastern shareholders. Last week we highlighted that French club Paris St. Germain is 100% Qatari owned. Top Spanish club Malaga is also.

Abu Dhabi Holdings spent $330 million for a 90% in Manchester City in 2008.

Spanish giants Barcelona are sponsored by Qatar Airlines, Manchester City are backed by Etihad, while Real Madrid, PSG, Arsenal and AC Milan all carry the Emirates logo on their shirts.
The United Arab Emirates, whose investment was virtually non-existent less than 10 years ago, has emerged as the biggest single investor in the sponsorship of European team soccer shirts, the Repucom report says. During the 2009/10 season, shirt sponsorship by Middle Eastern companies was worth about US$24.6 million. In 2014, UAE companies, led by Emirates and Etihad, invested US$163 million in shirt sponsorship as the Arab state surpassed Germany at the top of the sponsorship investment table.

Further to our article last week on Qatar’s quest to pursue sporting events, Qatar’s largest private bank, Commercial Bank has extended its sponsorship of the Commercial Bank Qatar Golf Masters through to 2018.

     Click on the extract (right) to get to the full article.

China is a new source of sport investors
Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda property group, has agreed to buy a 20% stake in Atletico de Madrid football club, the latest move by China’s second-richest man to build a global entertainment empire stretching from China’s rust belt to the heart of Hollywood. This negotiation was first rumoured last October. The deal is said to be worth about €45 million euros.
Wang Jianlin ranked No.1 on last year’s Forbes China Rich List with US$13.2 billion net worth. Dalian Wanda Group is a commercial property developer and cinema chain operator. In the 1990s, the group sponsored one of China’s most successful soccer teams, but later withdrew due to growing concerns with corruption. The Chinese conglomerate has recently negotiated to acquire the Infront Sports & Media agency, a deal reportedly worth about €1bn ($1.24bn).

In the seasons 2011 to 2014, Atletico won the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and Europa League, and also reached the Champions League final. The club has simultaneously been battling against debts which reached over €500 million, including tax arrears which have been reduced recently but still total around €80 million. 
The club’s revenue and operating income were less than one fifth of those of Real Madrid in the 2012-2013 season, whereas the average salary for its players was only a third of Real’s.


Originally published in "Back on the Block", 24 January 2015…with a whole lot more.  To read and subscribe, click here

Eric Winton

Director, New Millennium Business

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