Sports Ticker (17 June 2021) - RPC Sports Ticker: The FA's first female chair, CVC's "One Tennis" plans and Boris backs bowler
Welcome to the latest edition of the RPC Sports Ticker - providing fortnightly bite-size updates from around the sports industry.
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In a very busy fortnight that has seen calls from sponsors of the Olympics for the Games to be postponed (see here), we feature news of the FA's first female chair, CVC's plans for the ‘future of tennis’, and Boris Johnson's public comments supporting suspended cricket player Ollie Robinson. We also feature the (short lived) sponsorship deal between Norwich City and BK8, and a deal involving Sportradar which will bring new live video notifications for betting operators.
As always, if there are any areas you’d like more information on (or if you have any questions or feedback), please let us know or get in touch with your usual RPC contact.
First female to chair The Football Association
Subject to formal ratification by The FA, Debbie Hewitt (current non-executive chair of Visa Europe, The Restaurant Group plc, BGL Group and White Stuff) will become the first female chair of The FA in January 2022. The current chair, Greg Clarke, resigned in November 2020 amidst controversy. Hewitt has been described as an “outstanding candidate” by independent non-executive FA director and chair of the selection panel, Kate Tinsley. Hewitt stated: “I've been passionate about football from a very young age and I'm excited by the opportunity to play my part in shaping the future of something that means so much to many”. With the formal ratification decision scheduled to take place on 22 July 2021, we are looking forward to the confirmation of Hewitt as the FA's first female chair, and the way in which this influences not only the FA, but the sport as a whole. Read More
Match point: CVC for "One Tennis"
Private equity company, CVC Capital Partners, is currently in discussions to merge the men and women's tennis tours, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women's Tennis Association (WTA), to form “One Tennis”, within which CVC would hold a minority stake. Later this month CVC will be seeking approval from the ATP and WTA boards for the $600 million merger deal which is said to be a longstanding ambition of executives in the sport. If the deal were approved, “One Tennis” would join CVC's current sports investment portfolio – CVC is currently in the process of purchasing a stake in The Six Nations (see Ticker 34) among others, and already owns stakes in Premiership Rugby and Pro14. It would also be yet another example of PE investment in sports competitions, with more than an eye on associated media rights. Read More
Boris bowls in to support Ollie Robinson
Boris Johnson has given his support to England cricketer Ollie Robinson – wading in on the debate over his current suspension from the sport pending the outcome of a disciplinary investigation into tweets posted in 2012 and 2013 deemed as racist and sexist. A spokesperson for Mr Johnson has given a statement supporting recent comments by DCMS Secretary, Oliver Dowden, that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) went “over the top” in suspending Robinson. Dowden’s tweet described Robinson’s tweets as “offensive and wrong” but “also a decade old and written by a teenager”. To have the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for DCMS give commentary on the merits of decisions made by the disciplinary arms of sports organisations is irregular. The spotlight on this case has also raised questions about other players’ historic posts, with the ECB confirming that it will conduct social media reviews. Read More
Norwich City and BK8: spons-no-ship deal
Norwich City Football Club has reportedly terminated its sponsorship deal with Asian gambling company BK8 following controversy surrounding inappropriate marketing material that was brought to the club's attention. BK8 issued a statement apologising for the social media content published by its affiliates and explaining its commitment to improve as a brand as its primary mission is “to provide a safe and regulated betting platform for sports fans”. It is a timely reminder for clubs and brands to consider anti-embarrassment and anti-morality clauses in sponsorship agreements, and to also carefully review provisions relating to the consequences of termination. The decision by the club also reinforces the importance of the views of fans and other partners. Read More
Out with the old, in with the new: live video notifications for sports betting operators
Sports technology companies, WSC Sports and Sportradar, have partnered up to launch live video notifications for sports betting operators. Push notifications will automatically create live video highlights to encourage users to view and engage with the app. Yuval Benyamini, head of betting at WSC Sports, has described this tech solution as a “unique experience that delivers videos of in-game action directly to mobile phones in near real time”. The deal reflects the importance of complementary content to sports betting operators – not just in live sports data and real-time statistics, but also in broadcast streaming and video content relating to the matches on which consumers are placing bets. It is a trend that we expect to continue in earnest as operators seek to differentiate their offerings to consumers from their competitors. Read More
… and finally, sports app LiveScore has secured an exclusive three-year rights deal to replace Virgin Media as the Champions League broadcaster in Ireland and allow it to livestream all 137 UEFA Champions League matches for free in Ireland. The agreement will allow users to watch the 2021/22 season matches on the LiveScore app via iOS or Android from September 2021. 104 of the Champions League matches will be shown free-to-air on LiveScore exclusively, and the remaining 33 matches (including the final) will be live-streamed on a non-exclusive basis. This is an exciting deal for LiveScore, who by the end of the 2021/22 season will have streamed more than 1,250 matches across 15 leagues and competitions within Ireland, including 300 matches from Italy's Serie A. Read more here.