Sports Ticker (27 April 2023) – PL gambling sponsor ban, WWE x UFC merger and Schumacher's AI interview – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world

Published on 28 April 2023

In a fortnight which saw Corach Rambler win the Grand National, the UK & Ireland submit its bid to host the UEFA Euro 2028 men's tournament, and 48,000 runners take to the streets for the London Marathon, we bring you updates on Spotify's new integration with Strava and Team GB's collaboration with Birds Eye. We also feature stories on a controversial AI-generated interview with Michael Schumacher and our own Kate O'Malley's sub-three hour marathon success.

As always, if there are any issues on which you'd like more information (or if you have any questions or feedback), please do let us know or get in touch with your usual contact at RPC.

(Some) bets are off – Premier League to ban gambling ads

Premier League clubs are set to ban all gambling advertisement on the front of matchday shirts by the end of the 2025/26 season. The move follows consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), whereby the clubs have agreed to voluntarily take the step. Some campaigners argue that the ban does not go far enough, given that it will only come into effect in the 2026/27 season, and gambling advertisements will still be allowed on other parts of the kit and pitch-side advertising, maintaining exposure to fans. The DCMS is in the midst of a deep review into gambling laws in the UK “to make sure they are fit for the digital age” according to their spokesperson. The Premier League is the first major sports league to agree to such a step, but they are unlikely to be the last as the Gambling Act continues to be modernised.

A fighting chance for WWE and UFC under new merger

The parent company to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Endeavor Group Holdings Inc, will combine with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and create a new $21 billion publicly listed company. Endeavor have transformed the UFC into a multibillion-dollar sports empire since its acquisition in 2016 and the new venture hopes to maximise the reach of both brands to its combined global fanbase of over 1 billion. The move adds to Endeavor's existing sports portfolio which also includes Euroleague Basketball and the Miami and Madrid Open tennis tournaments. The new corporate group aims to be able to negotiate more lucrative media rights and sponsorship opportunities and “create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed” according to the Endeavor CEO.

Music on the run with Strava and Spotify

Strava, a service that allows users to track and share their workouts with friends, has teamed up with audio streaming service Spotify to provide a “seamless integration of music and movement”. Strava’s 100 million users are now able to browse Spotify’s library of music, audiobooks and podcasts and play, pause, resume and skip content from within the Strava app while recording their activity. The first-of-its kind integration will “solidify Strava’s position at the centre of connected fitness and continues to demonstrate the power of the global community of active people on Strava” according to its VP of Connected Partnerships. The announcement follows Strava’s recent acquisition of mapping tool FATMAP, which overlays hiking, running and cycling routes onto 3D renderings of the route’s environment.

Chatbot "interview" with Michael Schumacher faces legal challenge

The family of Michael Schumacher have announced intentions to bring legal action against German magazine Die Aktuelle after it published an "interview" with the Formula 1 legend that was generated by an AI chatbot. The article, under the strapline “it sounded deceptively real” published supposed "quotes" from "AI Schumacher" discussing his current condition and the toll his injury has taken on his family, only revealing the true source of the quotes at the end of the piece. The magazine's editor-in-chief has now been let go as a result of the article and its parent company has issued an apology, stating "[t]his tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared". The seven-time world champion has not been seen in public since late 2013 after he sustained a serious brain injury in a ski accident. Since September 2014, he has been cared for by his family at their home in Switzerland. Speaking to Netflix for a 2021 documentary, Schumacher's wife Corinna makes clear they are honouring his philosophy of “private is private”, commenting that “Michael always protected us and now we are protecting Michael”.

Team GB takes Bird's Eye view for Paris 2024

Team GB is once again collaborating with Green Cuisine, Birds Eye's range of meat-free products, in the run up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Having formed a successful partnership in 2020, the collaboration returns with a goal of educating Great Britain on the positive impact incorporating plant-based meals can bring to both our health and the planet. At the forefront of the partnership is "Get Set to Go Green", a program designed to educate people of all ages on how easy and delicious plant-based meals are. The program will be rolled out across primary schools in the UK, after a report recently found that over a third of children have asked an adult if they could eat a meal that doesn’t include any meat. Tim Ellerton, Commercial Director at Team GB commented: “Environmental sustainability is a huge focus for us at Team GB, so working with Green Cuisine to bring to life our work in sustainability is a great step forward”.

Extra time...

...and finally, the RPC Sports Group's very own Kate O'Malley recently ran the 2023 Paris Marathon in an incredible time of 2:58:01. O'Malley finished 1,872 out of 51,100 runners, and placed 46th out of all female runners, gaining her championship entry into all of the big 6 marathons for 2024. This year's Paris Marathon, which was sponsored by Schneider Electric, included a revamped finale in the streets of the French capital ending with the traditional finish on Avenue Foch. We're certain that all Sports Ticker readers will join us in congratulating Kate on this unbelievable achievement!