Sports Ticker (11 October 2021) - DAZN and BT Sport European Super League and new AJ deal
In a fortnight during which Tyson Fury retained his world title in an epic bout against Deontay Wilder, we feature Qatar joining the F1 circuit, AJ's new "career-long" deal with Matchroom, Excel Esports' exciting additions to its FIFA roster, and DAZN's potential bid for BT Sport.
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UEFA blows for full time on its European Super League disciplinary action
Almost six months after the high profile European Super League concept first came to light (see Ticker 36), UEFA's resulting disciplinary action against the three clubs who still vocally support the breakaway league (namely, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus) has been abruptly put on hold – at least for now. The decision comes following a Madrid Court directly ordering UEFA to drop the proceedings, supporting the three clubs' assertions that UEFA's disciplinary action amounted to a breach of EU competition law. Back in May, UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin, had stated that UEFA would "deal" with the three clubs, but a recent UEFA statement says that the disciplinary proceedings "have been declared null and void" in accordance with the Spanish Court's order. Subject to the outcome of the proceedings before the European Court of Justice, and UEFA's appeal of the Madrid Court's findings to the Provincial Court of Appeal, the door remains open for UEFA to renew disciplinary action in the future. It remains one to watch, with extra time and penalties still to come. Read more
DAZN in advanced talks to buy BT Sport
In a deal which could alter the UK sports broadcasting landscape, sports streaming service DAZN is reported to be in advanced talks to buy BT Sport. At a recent conference, DAZN Chairman Kevin Mayer stated he was "possibly" interested in BT Sport which he described as a "great business" and that he would "love to have EPL (Premier League) ultimately". Launching in 2016, DAZN is best known for its affiliation with combat sports such as boxing and MMA in which it has secured long-term streaming rights for the UFC, for example. BT Sport is unsurprisingly an attractive proposition, given the broadcaster's portfolio of its own combat sports rights, together with existing arrangements in rugby and football. DAZN owns the rights to screen all Serie A football matches in Italy for the next three seasons (in a deal reportedly valued at around $3 billion). One interesting dynamic will relate to boxing – DAZN announced a five year deal with Matchroom Boxing in June 2021 which ended the promotion's longstanding arrangements with Sky Sports. If it were to acquire BT Sport, it would presumably also acquire BT Sport's high profile partnership with rivals of Matchroom, Frank Warren and Queensberry. Read more
EXCEL kick-off FIFA roster with exciting new signings
It has been an exciting fortnight for EXCEL Esports, as they announced the launch of their first competitive FIFA team, together with the signing of Tom from Hashtag United (Tom Leese), and the return of Gorilla (Spencer Ealing). The decision to launch a FIFA roster is a neat fit for the team's brand who currently boast teams across LOL, Valorant and Fortnite. EXCEL are also partnered with Spurs star Dele Alli who has commented that "It's great to see EXCEL moving into the competitive FIFA scene! I have been playing FIFA in my spare time for a while now and love the game, so I'm excited to see where this new chapter will take them". The new FIFA roster will be coached by Nathan "Zelonius" Horton, who was formerly a player/coach at the AS Roma FIFA team. Read more
It's a match for Anthony Joshua and Matchroom
Despite world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua losing his recent fight with Oleksandr Usyk, there has been some positive news for the former Olympic champion. Joshua has signed a "career-long" deal with Matchroom Boxing, the fourth and (it's planned, final) promotional agreement the pair have signed together. Matchroom first signed Joshua in 2013, when he became professional, and it has been a progressive relationship ever since, with Matchroom playing a huge part and acting as a crucial platform throughout Joshua's journey as a boxer: winning and selling out fights and defending his world titles numerous times. Joshua has since commented: "I’ve felt comfortable during my years as a boxer and I always felt that the business outside of sport is harder than the actual fighting due to the history and some of the problems that some fighters have had. So, to be with Matchroom Sport has been a blessing for myself, my family and my team". We're excited to see what's next for Joshua, with the first fight to be shown under this new partnership expected to be a rematch with Usyk. Read more
Qatar sign deal with F1
Qatar will stage its first Formula One Grand Prix in November to fill the slot left vacant by cancellation of the Australian GP. The race is part of a long-term deal that will see Qatar join the F1 calendar from 2023 (with no race in 2022 due to the FIFA World Cup). The deal is thought to be comparable to the other races in the region that are worth in excess of £40m per race and is seen as a helpful injection of capital to the sport. The race will take place at the Losail International Circuit, north of the capital city of Doha. The track was built back in 2004, and already hosts the two-wheeled Moto GP event. The addition of the F1 grand prix is the latest in a long line of high profile sporting events to be hosted in Qatar. For the chance to "ride on board" for a lap of the track, the F1 press announcement has a video here. Read more
…and finally, London-based esports organisation Fnatic has introduced a three-year deal with ASOS, which would mark the online style and beauty retailer's first esports brand partnership. The reported 'multi-million pound partnership' will include a range of on-and-offline activations, including the creation of branded in-game experiences and digital content, as well as ASOS's logo placement on the front of all Fnatic's jerseys, spanning over 30 sports and 200 championships. "There are no other subcultures in the world that have influenced us more than gaming and fashion" Fnatic CEO, Sam Mathews, comments. The partnership pledges to push the envelope of what partnerships can entail for major brands in esports (read more here).