Sports Ticker (27 August 2021) - Team GBs cash boost, womens super league and the ATP
In a fortnight which marked the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with over 4,400 athletes from 162 different national Paralympic committees competing (see here), we feature the adoption of shorter format sports, the increase in funding for Team GB and broadcasting plans for the Women's Super League. We also feature the potential ban for football players travelling to red list countries and the ATP's safeguarding policy review.
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.
COVID locks down on longer format sports
As we know, COVID has put a hold on numerous competitions and matches, which has caused a significant financial impact on the sector – for example, English Cricket reportedly missed out on revenue in excess of £100 million and the Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled due to a rise in COVID cases (see here). There has therefore been a real shift in streaming and esports together with the modernisation of shorter format sports. The trend can be seen in sports ranging from F1 holding its first Sprint event, cricket's introduction of The Hundred, and World Lacrosse's launch of World Sixes (a format of Lacrosse we really enjoyed watching live earlier this month). It's hoped that shorter formats of sports will attract new, young and diverse audiences. On a related note, market research has also indicated large changes in consumer behaviour in respect of digital streaming, with Amazon being keen to snap up streaming rights for various sports including football and tennis. We expect that more sports follow suit with innovative formats in a bid to widen their audiences (including to fans of short-form content). Read more
The government has indicated that it will increase its annual funding for Great Britain's Olympians and Paralympians, rising by 43% from £54m to £77.4m per year in the lead up to the Paris Olympic Games in August 2024. The funding is with the aim of finding “the next generation of Olympic and Paralympic champions” and will also hopefully assist to boost Team GB's medal haul for Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. While Paris is the main focus for the team, the funding is also set to help out with the Winter Olympics in Beijing in a year's time and in Milan in 2026. The added Olympic funds are not the only money being injected into British sports, with approximately £778m being invested into the Commonwealth Games which is set to be held in Birmingham next year. Following Team GB's ongoing success at Tokyo 2020, it's great to see increased financial support for current and future athletes. Read more
Coverage plans for the new season of the BA Barclays FA Women's Super League (WSL) have been announced by Sky Sports and the BBC following both broadcasters entering into new rights deals with the FA. The BBC will show 22 matches on free to air TV, whilst Sky Sports will show at least 35 matches to its customers. Sky Sports coverage will commence with Manchester United v Reading on 3 September 2021, shortly followed by Chelsea v Arsenal on 5 September 2021 and will include every club in the opening five rounds of matches. The BBC's coverage will commence with Everton v Manchester City on 4 September 2021, which will be the first domestic game from the women's league to be shown on the network, and the first of five games to be broadcasted by the BBC throughout September and October. It is an exciting addition to both broadcasters' portfolios. We hope that increased exposure to the WSL and access to broadcasts of WSL fixtures will result in the much needed increase in funding for women's football (from all angles). Read more
Clubs see red...
Premier League (PL) sides, together with other European clubs, are looking to prevent players from travelling to red list countries unless quarantine exemptions are made. Liverpool is said to be one of the clubs refusing to release players for September's international break, meaning players will be forced to miss domestic league matches due to the 10 day isolation period upon return to the UK. FIFA has also extended the international windows during September and October by two days to allow countries to catch up on World Cup qualifiers (postponed due to the pandemic). As a result, many players may not return to their clubs until 11 September, when eight PL matches are scheduled. It is said that the PL, the FA and others are looking for a solution as soon as possible, an exemption from quarantine rules being a start, as almost 100 English-based players are likely to be unavailable for international matches. The government is in regular discussions with the sporting bodies in respect of the issue and the decision will be one to keep an eye out for. Read more
The ATP is conducting a comprehensive review of its safeguarding policies with a view to ensuring all adults and minors in professional tennis are protected from abuse. The independent report, which is being prepared by a team of consultants, is set to include a number of recommendations to elevate safeguarding and allow opportunities for more proactive involvement. This will be a shift from the ATP's present procedure to defer to legal authorities in cases to determine whether further internal action is required under the ATP Code of Conduct. Massimo Calvelli, CEO of the ATP commented: “abuse has a profound and lasting impact on millions of victims each year … we recognise that we have a responsibility to be doing more”. It is positive to see yet another sports organisation reviewing and enhancing its safeguarding procedures in order to provide support and protection to those who need it, and we hope to see many more across both traditional sports and esports (see Ticker 42) follow suit. Read more
… and finally, the new movement headed by the IPC and International Disability Alliance, #WeThe15, has launched. This movement aims to put disability at the core of the inclusion agenda in order to put a stop to discrimination toward those with disabilities and campaign for visibility, inclusion and accessibility. Over the next decade, the movement will work with the government, businesses and the public and bring together numerous organisations such as the UN Human Rights and the Special Olympics in order to create change and campaign for access to fundamental rights. Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC commented “WeThe15 aspires to be the biggest human rights movement for persons with disabilities … sport, and events such as the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, are hugely powerful vehicles … there will be at least one major international sport event for persons with disabilities to showcase the WeThe15 each year between now and 2030” (read more here). Facebook has teamed up with the IPC on a four-part film series in support of #WeThe15. These aired on 19 August on longform video destination Facebook Watch, and can be accessed via the Paralympic Games Facebook page (see here).