Sports Ticker (19 January 2023) – Winter Olympics environmental concerns, FIFA caps agent fees, and YouTube & NFL deal – a speed-read of commercial updates from the sports world

Published on 19 January 2023

In a fortnight which saw England defeated by France in the Qatar 2022 World Cup quarter-finals, we bring you updates on the £400m bid for The Hundred, EE and EXCEL Esports' sponsorship renewal and BetFred's sponsorship of the Fury v Chisora heavyweight title fight. We also feature updates on beIN MENA's record breaking Qatar 2022 World Cup viewership and the innovative AI generated art based on world cup match outcomes that will become NFTs.

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.

Winter Olympics: The competition is heating up!

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will delay choosing a host for the 2030 Winter Olympics due to concerns over climate change. The primary concern is that there is widespread decline in global snow coverage as average temperatures rise and this leads to increased costs incurred to create the required conditions. It is estimated that the 2022 hosts of the Winter Olympics, Beijing, incurred costs of $8.8 billion. Vancouver, which hosted the games in 2010, had previously announced their interest in hosting the 2030 games. However, in October, British Columbia's minister for arts, tourism and culture said that the province would not support this bid because the high costs could put pressure on the government. The IOC is reviewing proposals to address this issue. One such proposal is to have a rotating slate of host cities which can show average minimum temperatures of below zero degrees at the time of the games over a 10-year period, rather than electing a new location every four years. The next Winter Olympics are scheduled for Milan-Cortina, Italy, in 2026.

Commission impossible - FIFA caps agent fees

A new regulatory framework has been introduced by football's governing body FIFA which relates to football agents. The widespread rule changes will see the inception (or rather, a reintroduction) of a mandatory global licensing system, prohibitions around multiple representation and the introduction of a cap on agent fees. Agents will now no longer be able to represent three parties within the same transaction (the selling club, buying club and the player), aimed at preventing potential conflict of interest scenarios, whilst the newly introduced cap on agent fees will act to limit the amount agents can earn on a player's negotiated employment contract. Agents will be entitled to a maximum of 3% commission where the represented players annual total fixed remuneration is above US $200,000 and 5% for remuneration under US $200,000. Now is the time to be considering new representation agreement wording (especially as new agreements will straddle the position for the current and Summer transfer windows, and the effective date of many of the substantive regulations in October 2023). Any changes to wording will also need to mindful that The FA has not yet introduced its own regulations based on FIFA's new framework.

YouTube scores NFL deal

YouTube, the world's largest video platform, has entered the lucrative sports streaming market through its latest deal with the National Football League (NFL), worth £11.6bn. The NFL has traditionally been televised by US broadcasters and YouTube's foray into this market suggests an evolution of sports streaming. YouTube edged out competition from Apple to acquire the seven-year licence to broadcast the Sunday Ticket games, demonstrating the appetite from big tech companies to diversify their revenue streams, possibly due to reported declines in advertising sales. The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell embraced this deal as a pivot towards younger audiences who have led the “cord cutting” move to streaming platforms as opposed to traditional TV.

No longer an NFT Fanatic - Sports brand divests crypto stake

Amidst the "crypto winter", top sports merchandise brand, Fanatics, is divesting its 60% stake in non-fungible token (NFT) company Candy Digital, according to industry sources and reports. The decision comes after the drastic falloff of NFTs witnessed in late 2022, both in terms of valuation and popularity. Candy Digital launched during the bull market of 2021 and became one of the key players for sports NFTs in the market. The company launched digital collectibles ranging from projects around Major League Baseball, Netflix’s Stranger Things, and WWE, but as Fanatics chief executive Michael Rubin stated in an internal email to employees “over the past year, it has become clear that NFTs are unlikely to be sustainable or profitable as a standalone business”. Rubin further explained that Fanatics is aiming to expand on sports betting and trading cards and envisions merging digital products with physical collectibles to create the best experiences.

LIV Golf in the bunker with no UK TV broadcaster in sight

The LIV Golf tournament is reportedly struggling to secure a traditional TV broadcaster in the UK after a fresh round of pre-Christmas negotiations with Sky Sports, BT Sport and DAZN, leading it to consider the radical alternative of offering live TV rights for free. Last year's inaugural season was available to UK audiences as a stream on LIV's own website as well as Facebook and YouTube due to the lack of agreement with a broadcaster. However, this year, the competition still has not seen interest from broadcasters. Sky Sports' new deal with the PGA Tour is seen as a hurdle to an agreement with LIV, whilst BT Sport and DAZN could not agree on the price demanded by event organisers. With no offers from either Amazon or Disney, LIV is left without a UK broadcaster, in circumstances where over £1 billion has reportedly already been spent on the competition.

Extra time...

...and finally, UK online investment platform AJ Bell has been announced as the title partner of the Great Run Series, as part of a five-year deal with the Great Run Company. The sponsorship will cover the Great North Run, which is the world's largest half marathon and the UK's biggest running event, and which attracts 60,000 entrants. The event will be broadcast live on the BBC and shown in 169 territories around the word. AJ Bell has nominated Mind as the official charity partner for the series during the first year of the partnership....

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