Sports Ticker: F1's global exhibition, football executives walk free and Wimbledon's Official Stringer- a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world

Published on 14 July 2022

In a fortnight which saw Novak Djokovic win a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title, McLaren strike a multi-year deal with footwear brand K-Swiss from 2023, and Sky Sports secure rights to show the Joshua v Usyk rematch, we feature updates on Formula 1's latest fan attraction and engagement strategy, Spurs' new streaming platform, and the latest on the corruption trials of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. 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.

Premier League – the vote on a voluntary gambling ban delayed

Premier League has reportedly approached the 20 top-flight clubs to discuss plans that would see the phasing out of betting companies as shirt sponsors (with around 40% of Premier League clubs currently benefitting from such arrangements). The proposed meeting of Premier League clubs to discuss the issues has been postponed in the light of the various Government resignations, with the Government having been reportedly planned to unveil its White Paper on gambling reform in the coming weeks. Under the Premier League's proposal, it would be envisaged that there would be a voluntary ban on new deals that would come into play from the beginning of the new 2022/2023 season, but which would permit existing contracts to naturally expire provided they do so before the 2024/2025 campaign.

Babolat becomes Official Stringer for Wimbledon

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club has announced a deal with French company Babolat, making it the new Official Stringer for the Wimbledon Championships. Credited for inventing the tennis string in 1875 and one of the only sports equipment brands to focus specifically on racket sports, Babolat will be responsible for the stringing of rackets according to the competitors' needs for the duration of the tournament. The deal follows a successful 10-year licensing agreement between the two parties which has seen Babolat supply tennis shoes, strings, rackets, bags and accessories to the Championships.

Amazon and BBC secure Champions League deal while Spurs launch streaming platform

A shakeup in the broadcasting arena for the Champions League sees Amazon securing rights to 17 of the 204 live matches from the 2024-2025 season, and the BBC to broadcast the league highlights for the first time. The deal represents the largest sports-rights deal Amazon has made in the UK to date, and no doubt sends strong messages to those who will participate in the next bids for Premier League content. The move will end BT's exclusive showing of live Champions League football which it has had in the UK since 2014, however, BT has retained UK rights for the remaining 187 games in 2024 and negotiated a price-cut of 23% for the three-year deal. It comes in an interesting fortnight for UK sports broadcasts, with the CMA opening an investigation into whether BT, IMG Media, ITV and Sky are fixing the rate offered to freelance workers who provide their services for sports broadcasts (see here - paywall).

Swiss Court acquits former FIFA and UEFA executives

Former presidents of FIFA and UEFA Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini respectively were charged by the Swiss authorities for fraud in relation to a payment of 2 million CHF by Blatter to Platini in 2011. The payment apparently followed a demand by Platini for backdated additional salary for his role as an adviser to Blatter pursuant to a 'gentleman's agreement' between the pair. The initial charges followed investigations by the US Department of Justice into bribery, fraud and corruption at FIFA in 2015. The FIFA ethics committee rejected the explanation for the payment, but the Swiss court found for the pair. The proceedings have now concluded, and the Federal Criminal Court in the city of Bellinzona has acquitted both individuals of the charges.

Formula 1 continues to drive their fan engagement strategy

Formula 1 has announced it will produce a global travelling exhibition and fan immersive experience to cover F1's rich history and exciting future. The Formula 1 Exhibition will be curated by F1 experts, historians and journalists, and partners with Manhattan West, a global strategic investment company, and Round Room Studios, a renowned production company. Tim Harvey, Lead Producer & Managing Partner at Round Room Studios, said: “The show combines new, immersive technologies that bring to life F1’s spectacular stories in a dramatic manner, as well as fun, interactive spaces that provide different perspectives on the sport’s past, present and future.” Formula 1 has also just extended its licensing agreement with sports licensing, retail and memorabilia business, The Memento Group (TMG), until 2025. The extension allows TMG to retain its license to sell authentic, certified Formula 1 memorabilia from current F1 teams, and now includes the rights to sell ex-F1 race cars and show cars on its website.

Extra time...

…and finally, extreme sport enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the new “rugged” version of the Apple Watch. Anticipated to be launched alongside the new Series 8 and SE Apple Watch, sources hint that this model will have a larger battery, and come with a strong metal casing rather than aluminium to protect from extreme conditions. The screen will be Apple's largest smartwatch display yet (measuring nearly 2-inches) as well as being more shatter-resistant making it sturdier for athletes.

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