The Sports Business Weekly Wrap-up | 25.4.21

Jack Glennon
Jack Glennon
Apr 25, 2021

Not much to report this week friends, not much has happened in the world of sports business…

That’s clearly a lie. WHAT A WEEK.

If anyone has clicked on to this article wondering “Oh, I wonder what sports business stories Jack is going to cover this week?” Well you must have been hiding under a rock. The launch of the European Super League and it’s near immediate collapse is obviously the big news of the week and I’m going to do my best to try and round up EVERYTHING that went on. Strap in, folks because this week has been chaotic to say the least…

Last weekend 

I’ll set the scene… 

Sunday evening. Super Sunday is on the TV, it’s business as usual. However, rumours have been bouncing around all afternoon that 12 of the biggest football clubs in Europe were planning to form their own breakaway Super League. Pundits are fuming, Twitter is going wild, it’s chaos. This competition would replace the Champions League and the founding members would be in the competition every year without fail, no matter how well or how poorly they performed in their respective domestic leagues. Seems fair… NOT.

Sports Business

 

Their argument is that the Champions League doesn’t generate enough revenue and isn’t sustainable. It’s an interesting way to approach it, being fixated on generating new income revenue streams instead of fixing your problems at home and not spending beyond your means on extortionate wages, etc. Anyway, that’s a story for another day.

The venture is being bankrolled by JP Morgan Chase apparently to the tune of nearly £3 billion and each team, just for accepting the invite to join the league will receive somewhere in the region of £300 million.

Late on Sunday night, an official statement was published by the ‘Super League’ formally announcing its creation, along with the 12 founders publishing the news. Some chose to announce it on social media, others did not. Almost as if they knew what the backlash might be…

Monday Night Football tomorrow with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher could be interesting…

Monday

Oh boy, what a day.It’s been hard to keep up with the news today to be honest.

UEFA are saying they’re going to ban any players from UEFA tournaments if they partake in the Super League. That will go down well… Ed Woodward has resigned from the ECA along with Juventus’ Andrea Agnelli. UEFA’s president Aleksander Čeferin is throwing around words like “snakes” and “liars” about the founding 12 members. It’s all absolutely mental.

Monday Night Football on Sky Sports was good. In fact, it was very good. Both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were spot on with their criticism of the Super League. If you get chance, please go and watch it back. Here’s a clip.

Personally, the removal of sporting merit and competition is the thing that irks me most. Also, the cheek of the 12 clubs to claim they are the “European elite” when quite clearly, most of them are not. 

Sports Business

 

Fans have been protesting, and rightly so and as we got further and further into the evening, after protesting outside the ground Chelsea fans discovered that the club would be withdrawing from the ESL. This, turned out to be the first domino to fall for English clubs leaving the competition.

Tuesday

What a 48 hours it has been…

By the end of Tuesday the Super League is all but dead. All 6 English clubs have now withdrawn from the proposed competition after monumental backlash from fans, the media, sporting bodies, the government and more. There was actually something quite heartwarming seeing the sport come together against a common enemy.

Ed Woodward has also resigned from his role as executive vice-chairman of Manchester United. This apparently has got absolutely NOTHING to do with the collapse of the Super League because he apparently “can’t support it” but he’s been involved in its planning… Ok, Ed. 

 

I’ve tried my best to round up what’s gone on over the last 2 days but this article in the New York Times from Rory Smith is a great summary of everything that’s gone on and is well worth a read!

Barry Hearn is stepping down from his role as chairman the Matchroom Sports Group after almost 40 years with his son, Eddie to take his place. He said “Now a greater responsibility falls on my shoulders and I am very proud to continue his great work and lead the business and the incredible team that we have built at Matchroom.

Wednesday

We’re still seeing a lot of fallout from the last couple of days in the footballing world and it’s continued today as PSG’s president, Nasser Al Khelaifi has been elected the new president of the Era (European Club Association) after Juventus’ CEO Andrea Agnelli resigned two days ago. The ECA represents 232 clubs in Europe and plays a pivotal role in representing their interests in UEFA.

 

Also, the apologies from the owners of the so called ‘Big Six’ in England have started to appear as Liverpool FC posted a video from owner John Henry apologising for “disruption caused over the last 48 hours.” Disruption is certainly an interesting choice of word when you’ve basically been forced to backtrack on your plan to make a closed shop and make more money for yourself that would potentially ruin the game as we know it…

This might be the end of the Super League for now but this is certainly not going away and could be the beginning of widespread changes and reforms to European football. Ownership is obviously being discussed and the idea of following the German 50+1 fan ownership model is being banded around.

Thursday

Three bits of news for Thursday this week 

  • DAZN are targeting Premier League rights in the UK according to their new chairman, Kevin Mayer TalkSport have said. Last year the ‘Netflix of Sport’ expanded to over 200 territories and it now has its eyes set on the UK after securing a new boxing deal with Eddie Hearn and backing from billionaire, Len Blavatnik.
  • Wiz Khalifa has joined the ownership group of the PFL. The Professional Fighters League announced that the rapper will take on an all-encompassing role with the organisation Complex report. “He will play an active role in shaping and amplifying the voice of the PFL brand and how it resonates with the 550 million fans around the world.”

 

Sports business

 

  • Overtime Sports Inc. the sports and entertainment venture that targets younger fans on digital and social platforms has raised $80 million in funding to pursue plans including the launch of its own high-school basketball league. The Series C round of funding saw the likes of Jeff Bezos, Drake, Alexis Ohanian and a number of current and former NBA players invest in the company according to the Wall Street Journal. 
Friday

JP Morgan Chase, the bank that was financing the European Super League with a £2.8 billion funding package released a statement saying they ‘misjudged’ its decision to bankroll the venture. A JP Morgan spokesperson said “We clearly misjudged how this deal would be viewed by the wider football community and how it might affect them in the future. We will learn from this.”

The International Olympic Committee is partnering with five International Sports Federations and game publishers to host a virtual Olympics according to Campaign. The virtual series will take place from 13 May to 23 June to help build up excitement for this summers Olympics which begin in July. Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, said “The Olympic Virtual Series is a new, unique Olympic digital experience that aims to grow direct engagement with new audiences in the field of virtual sports.

 

With the pandemic still gripping a lot of nations and forcing them into lockdowns, the idea of using a virtual event to generate interest in the upcoming Olympics is smart indeed.

Saturday

UFC returns with a full capacity crowd

When the pandemic first hit last March, the UFC were one of the first sports to return in the May and led the way in showing that it could be done in a safe manner. Saturday night (well, the early hours of Sunday morning for us in the UK) saw a full capacity crowd for UFC 261. Held at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida 15,000 fans watched a triad of title fights including welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defend his belt against Jorge Masvidal in the main event.

 

There was also news last night that next weekend that English football will be uniting to boycott social media for 4 days to pressure social media companies to combat discriminatory abuse on their platforms.

And breathe. A whirlwind of a week to say the least. That’s the Sports Business Weekly Wrap-up done for this week. The Super League news obviously dominated the headlines this week and rightly so but what will be interesting to watch now is the fallout from this, if anything else happens and what sort of reforms may come about. There are clearly a number of issues that have been raised, including the sustainability of football in Europe, the aims and ambitions of billionaire owners and what football is really all about. Whatever happens, we’ll do our best to cover it all here at Behind Sport.

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