Sports Ticker (12 April 2023) – EFL broadcasting rights, HSBC and EXCEL team up and Russia's athletics ban – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world

Published on 12 April 2023

In a fortnight which saw the Masters 2023 contested by golfers from both the PGA and LIV Golf, Anthony Joshua claim a points victory over Jermaine Franklin and Gwyneth Paltrow cleared of charges in her ski lawsuit (Ticker 82), we bring you updates on the proposed equal gender Formula 1 team and World Athletics' decision on Russian athletes. We also feature stories on Aleksandar Mitrovic's punishment for pushing a referee and the NHL's new official outfitter.

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.

Football's 3pm blackout remains as Sky Sports set to retain EFL rights

Sky Sports has been announced as the preferred bidder to broadcast the English Football League (Championship, League One and League Two) fixtures from the 2024-2025 season. The EFL will now enter into an exclusive month-long negotiation period with incumbent Sky Sports. Sky Sports currently hold the rights for the EFL in a £119 million per year deal, showing just 138 games live each season. DAZN had also submitted a bid to broadcast the fixtures, in a move which would have shown every single EFL fixture and ended the 3pm blackout rule at football league level. The rule, which has been in place for over 60 years, prevents any live footage of games being shown between 14:45 - 17:15 with the aim of preserving match going culture and therefore club revenue. While some clubs argued DAZN's proposals could be disastrous, DAZN believe they could have helped the EFL clubs “close the gap” on the Premier League in terms of revenue streams and market the league to a new generation of supports globally. We now await the outcome of Sky's exclusive negotiation period.

HSBC teaching Britain to EXCEL financially with new partnership

In a period where the esports partnership environment is cooling, EXCEL, one of Britain's most well-known gaming and esports organisations, has announced its new partnership with HSBC UK. HSBC is to become the organisation's Official Financial Services Partner and Financial Health Provider, with a goal of working in partnership to provide support to younger generations and budding entrepreneurs to build their financial skills. The partnership places emphasis on breaking down financial stigmas and improving financial literacy amongst Gen Z, Gen A and Millennials, adding to the 445,000+ young people who received financial guidance from HSBC and their partners in 2022. It will make the most of the young professionals and entrepreneurs that make up EXCEL’s talent roster, who similarly will face the challenge of managing their wealth at a particularly early stage in their careers. HSBC joins a number of high-calibre partners at EXCEL, which include JustEat, JD Sports and Sony IZONE, bringing their unique expertise in helping young people manager their financial health.

NHL Fanatic-al about new uniform partner
The National Hockey League (NHL) has announced that Fanatics will become their new official team outfitter in a deal that see players in Fanatics kit until 2034. Replacing incumbent provider Adidas, Fanatics will produce on-ice uniforms for the NHL's 32 North American teams and authentic jerseys for fans from the 2024-25 season. The company is not new to professional sportswear, manufacturing Major League Baseball team uniforms under license for Nike since 2017 and training gear for the NHL's players and coaches since 2018. All NHL game jerseys are currently produced by a factory in Quebec. Fanatics will continue this tradition, but intend to use their own expertise and the input of players and equipment managers to implement “gradual, data-driven changes over time”, improving the player and fan experience of their products. 

New team racing for equality bids for F1 entry

An all-new equal-gender Formula 1 team has announced intentions to join the sport in the 2026 racing season. The team, dubbed "Formula Equal", will feature a 50/50 gender split of roles at all levels including engineers and board members. It will operate out of an unspecified "Gulf area country", with Saudi Arabia believed to be one of the project's key underwriters. Team principal Craig Pollock, former head of the British American Racing team and manager of 1997 champion Jacques Villeneuve, believes “it'd be absolutely fantastic [to have a female driver]”, but acknowledges the difficulty given the small number of women eligible to drive in F1. If successful, the team could host the first female F1 driver since 1992. It marks the latest potential F1 application to publicly reveal its plans after the FIA launched its tender process for new teams for the 2025 and 2026 racing seasons earlier this year.

The doping ban's been served, but Russia won't be welcomed back to athletics just yet

World Athletics has lifted Russia's 7 year doping ban, but the country’s athletes, support personnel and officials remain barred from athletics competitions for the foreseeable future after its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Russia was originally banned from competing in the Olympics in November 2015 after being accused of a state-supported doping programme by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Since then, Russian athletes were able to compete as neutrals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee is reportedly exploring a similar route for Russian and Belarusian athletes for Paris 2024. World Athletics, however, has banned athletes from both countries entirely, in line with the 34 countries that have committed support to a ban on their participation in all international sport. In a recent statement Seb Coe, World Athletics President, commented “[t]he death and destruction we have seen in Ukraine over the past year, including the deaths of some 185 athletes, have only hardened my resolve on this matter”.

Extra time... independent commission has handed Aleksandar Mitrovic an 8 game ban and a £75,000 fine for an incident during Fulham’s FA Cup quarter final against Manchester United. The striker will serve the standard 3 match ban for a red card, with an additional 3 for violent conduct against the referee (which Mitrovic denies) and 2 for his “improper, abusive, insulting and threating” language. The incident, which saw 3 red cards for Fulham within 40 seconds, sparked controversy in the sports world, with some calling for an example to be made of Mitrovic to curb copycat behaviour in grassroots leagues. Manager Marco Silva, who also saw one of the 3 red cards, will serve a 2 match touchline ban and pay a fine of £40,000. Both Mitrovic and Silva have since apologised for their actions. The Football Association currently intend to appeal the punishments, believing them to be too lenient, but await the commission’s written report...

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