Sports Ticker (11 August 2022) - Sports Ticker: rugby authorities' revamp, UFC's Amazon deal and Commonwealth victories – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world' to the website and social media channels

Published on 11 August 2022

In a fortnight which saw England win the Women's Euro 2022 final after beating Germany 2-1 in front of 87,192 fans at Wembley, and retirement announcements from Open Era record holder and 23 times Grand Slam winner Serena Williams and four time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel, we feature updates on Everton FC's partnership with blockchain fashion platform Fancurve, organisational changes to the Hong Kong Rugby Union and World Rugby and LeBron James' investment into German bicycle brand Canyon.

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The Commonwealth Games come to a close as athletes snap up a total of 1,875 medals

The Games, which saw 5,000 athletes from 72 nations compete in 19 different sports, was a massive success with BBC Sport's coverage of the 11-day event being streamed a record breaking 57.1 million times; a six fold increase from Glasgow 2014. England won a record 176 medals, of which 57 were gold, two medals shy of table-topping Australia's 178. The Birmingham 2022 Games also hosted three different video game competitions with hundreds of players representing 20 different nations. The trial, which looked at the ability of esports competitions to run alongside traditional sports was hailed a success with Dame Louise Martin, President of the Commonwealth Games Federation stating that “Going forward this will be a sport within the Games – that's my personal opinion”.

Governance review leads World Rugby to appoint Independent Ethics Officer

World Rugby has appointed its first ever Independent Ethics Officer, Neil Hallett – a Former Detective Inspector with the experience of three World Cups under his belt. Hallett will oversee implementing the recommendations from World Rugby's recent independent-led governance review, including scrapping the current tier system for unions (to be replaced with merit-based classifications), and widening representations within World Rugby's committees including addressing the gender balance and increasing national/regional representation. Most importantly, Hallett will act independently to World Rugby in adopting the new Integrity Code and setting up a vetting process of World Rugby officials for violations of this Code.

UFC hooks Amazon on new licensing agreement

Amazon and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) have announced that they have signed a new licencing agreement for UFC apparel and accessory products. This promotion will be in collaboration with 'Amazon Merch on Demand' (the company's new print-on-demand service) and will unveil a brand-new line of merchandise. Tracey Bleczinic, Vice President of UFC Global Consumer Products, has said “We're thrilled to work with an incredible company like Amazon to enhance our fan gear with a broad array of new products with original designs for UFC fans”. This isn't the first time the two have worked together, following the UFC's exclusive US licensing contract for fan gear and apparel with Amazon-owned Zappos in January 2021.

LeBron James assists bicycle brand Canyon in leading €30 million funding round

NBA superstar Lebron James has invested €30 million into German bicycle brand Canyon. The deal for a 4% stake in the bicycle brand was led by LRMR Ventures, (the family office of LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter) and by SC Holdings, a US-based private equity firm. Canyon is a direct-to-customer manufacturer of premium road, mountain and gravel bikes which sell for as much as €8,000 and, since the funding round, the company has been valued at €750 million. Canyon chief executive Nicolas de Ros Wallace stated, “LeBron is one of the biggest athletes globally, and he truly cares about cycling”, calling their business partnership “the perfect match”.

Everton FC scores with digital avatar shirts partnerships

Everton FC has announced a “ground-breaking” partnership with US-based company Fancurve to create digitally-wearable shirts for the club's supporters. The officially licensed, non-replica club-branded shirts will be available for Blues fans to purchase in the metaverse. These “unique, photo-realistic custom collections” are described as a series of “high-end” digital shirts functioning as fashion wearables and enriched media content, in a bid to enable a “hyper-immersive” online fan experience. The collaboration comes after Fancurve announced a similar partnership with La Liga side Real Betis highlighting the huge potential for opportunities in sport driven by the development of the metaverse.

Extra time...

…and finally, the Hong Kong Rugby Union's (HKRU) EGM voted to implement a new constitution with a modern governance-focused Board. The Board members elected by the HKRU's constituent groups will no longer be elected to specific portfolios, and will be voted using the instant run-off and single transferable vote method. The elected Board members will be joined on the Board formally by the Chief Executive, and can be supplemented by independent directors nominated by a new Nominations Committee. The Nominations Committee, led by the President of the HKRU, will nominate independent directors based on their skills, diversity and the needs of the HKRU, allowing the Board to work towards greater diversity and inclusion in the highest levels of rugby in Hong Kong and to bolster the Board's experience and capabilities according to any pressing opportunities or needs. The new Articles of Association were proposed by the HKRU's Governance Review Working Group, of which RPC's Hong Kong-based Partner, Jonathan Crompton, was a member. Paddy Donovan Chair of the HKRU Board said “the proactive, member-led approach of the Board Governance Review project review has demonstrated the importance the Hong Kong rugby community attaches to good governance. To take the project from inception through a comprehensive and detailed consultation process to a successful conclusion and implementation in less than 12 months was very impressive. The changes that were recommended by the Governance Working Group and ratified by the membership will set us in good stead moving forward.”