Sports Ticker: CMA's probe into broadcasts, rugby class action and latest sportswear partnerships – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world

Published on 29 July 2022

In a fortnight which saw Cameron Smith win the 150th Open and various investigations into allegations of anti-competitive practices across the sports world (including an antitrust investigation into the PGA Tour concerning its response to LIV Golf), we feature updates on Castore's first female ambassador deal, rugby players' class action lawsuit and highlight the record-breaking attendance and viewership records of this year's UEFA's Women's Euros. 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.

Deals all round: Liverpool FC extends main shirt sponsorship whilst AC Milan partners with Hally & Son

Liverpool FC (LFC) has announced it will extend its sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered until the end of the 2026-2027 season. The four-year extension, which also includes sponsorship of LFC Women, is intended to strengthen the longstanding relationship between the two parties, which will total an impressive 17 seasons. Billy Hogan, Chief Executive of LFC, has said the bank “has been an incredible part of our success over the course of the last 12 years”. In the same week, AC Milan embarked on a new partnership with eyewear brand Hally & Son. The deal follows the team's recent Serie A win for the first time in 11 years.

The CMA investigates top broadcasters over rate fixing for freelance workers

BT, IMG Media, Sky and ITV are being probed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into whether the media outlets are fixing the rates provided to freelance workers who produce and broadcast sports content in the UK. According to reports, a leaked email between BT Sport and Sky Sports has created a suggestion that the two broadcasters were consulting on the price offered to freelance workers. Reports also suggest that the focus of the investigation, which will date back to 2015, will be on remuneration offered to highly skilled staff such as camera operators and sound engineers. The probe has peaked interest due to its involvement in an area the CMA may not traditionally look at (noting the effect on the consumer would be a lower price, with any possible harm being on the freelance workers).

ECB and Sky Sports extend partnership from 2025 until 2028

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Sky Sports have announced they are extending their strategic partnership, in a move which will see the continuation of The Hundred until at least 2028. Under the deal, which is reportedly worth £880 million, Sky Sports will continue covering home, international and domestic cricket for another four years. The ECB praises the relationship with Sky Sports, which has been going steady for 30 years, as helping to increase interest and investments in the sport. In 2021, 134 million more hours of ECB cricket were watched compared to 2017, whilst a new record of 14 million people played, attended or followed cricket. The ECB has stated it is excited to utilise the partnership to inspire the next generation, with 10,000 children getting an opportunity to play cricket for free through the Sky Dynamos Intros in 2022 alone, and grow interest in the game with increased coverage of women's cricket.

Castore signs Olympic champion as first female ambassador

Castore, the British sportswear brand and manufacturer, has signed Eve Muirhead as its latest ambassador. Muirhead has had a number of successes this year including becoming curling Olympic Champion at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as captain for Team GB in February and World Champion in May. As Castore's first female ambassador, Muirhead joins Saracens and England rugby player Owen Farrell, tennis sensation Sir Andy Murray and new England cricket captain Jos Buttler. Tom Beahon, co-founder of Castore said “she is the personification of Better Never Stops, but she’s also incredibly driven and dedicated when it comes to being a top tier athlete. Eve is an asset to the brand, and we can’t wait to work with her”.

Former rugby players bring class action against authorities over early on-set dementia

Following the threat of legal action against the Rugby Football League from former players last October (as reported in Ticker 50), a group of former professional and semi-professional rugby union players who have been diagnosed with neurological impairments plan to issue legal proceedings against World Rugby, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the Rugby Football Union (RFU). Among the 185 potential claimants is former Wales captain Ryan Jones, who was recently diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 41. The group, who are represented by London-based law firm Rylands law, allege that the bodies governing rugby union were negligent in failing to take action to protect players from permanent injuries as a result of concussive blows sustained during the game. World Rugby, the RFU and WRU have issued a joint statement that they will “never stand still when it comes to welfare”.

Extra time...

…and finally, the 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship has seen many successes so far both on and off the pitch. A new attendance record for the tournament was already set by the end of the group stage with 248,075 fans having attended. Whilst by the conclusion of the quarter-finals, the previous total audience record of 164 million had been shattered by this tournament. The opening game in which England beat Austria 1-0 saw 68,871 spectators attend, a massive increase on the previous record from the 2013 final of 27,570. Following's England 4-0 victory over Sweden, we look forward to watching the final this Sunday against Germany after they beat France 2-1.