Sports Ticker #100: Earps' SPOTY win and shirt sell out, smart ball company raises US$15m, and Unilever sponsors UEFA – a speed read of commercial updates

Published on 21 December 2023

In a fortnight which saw Mary Earps win the Sports Personality of the Year 2023, FIFA receive three Women's World Cup 2027 bids, and Endeavor invest in, we bring you updates on the first Lioness to trade mark her name, the ground-breaking Guinness Six Nations sponsorship, and a multi-year broadcasting deal between TNT and Formula E.

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.

Trade mark for Toone

Manchester United's Ella Toone is the first Lioness to trade mark her name with the launch of her own "ET7" brand. She became the first England player to score in major tournament quarter-final, semi-final and final matches after her incredible strike against World Cup host nation Australia earlier this year. Toone's YouTube channel has almost 60,000 subscribers, whilst her Instagram has 695,000 followers, demonstrating her popularity off the pitch too. ET7 (initials and shirt number) follows in the footsteps of other Nike athletes seeking to control their own content, such as Ronaldo who owns his CR7 brand. Central to the ET7 brand is the creation of an Ella Toone Academy, through which Toone hopes to find a talent from her hometown of Tyldesley who will go on to play for England. In other Lionesses news, Mary Earps' England goalkeeper shirts sold out within five minutes following "unprecedented demand" when they were released at 8am on Monday 11 December 2023.

Stout sponsorship for Six Nations

Six Nations Rugby has agreed a "ground-breaking" long term partnership with Guinness, thought to be worth around £15 million per year. The deal includes the title sponsorship to the Women's tournament, which will see it renamed the Guinness Women's Six Nations alongside the Guinness Men's Six Nations, whose title sponsorship has been extended. The new partnership ends TikTok's sponsorship less than two years into a four-year deal. Six Nations chief executive Tom Harrison described the Guinness partnership as "a defining moment for rugby, with huge potential to widen the audience for the sport". He said the women's game is "the biggest growth engine for rugby" and hopes that the partnership with Guinness will help accelerate this.

Smart ball funding haul

Smart ball tech firm Sportable has raised US$15 million in its first round of Series A funding after Cape Town-headquartered VC firm HAVAÍC announced an investment of US$1 million, alongside other investors including US-based sports investor Ryan Sports Ventures and Australian investors XV Capital. Founded in 2016, Sportable utilises Micro-Tracking (MT) technology to enhance data collection and analysis in ball and contact sports. MT modules are fitted in balls and on players, and are plotted by Radio Frequency beacons around the field to capture and process every movement on the pitch accurately. The smart balls facilitate live analysis and provide insights to produce actionable data with near-zero latency, allowing for augmented reality graphics powered by real-time match stats. This deepens engagement with television viewers and empowers industry players in media, sponsorship, and betting. Sportable has so far enjoyed success with leading tournaments, including the Six Nations, and now hopes to scale its technology.

Formula E no longer free

TNT Sports, formerly BT Sport, has signed a multi-year deal for broadcasting rights to air Formula E in the UK from January 2024 with former footballer Jermaine Jenas named as host. All 17 races of the season, which kicks off with the Mexico City E-Prix, will be aired live on TNT Sports with uninterrupted coverage of every race, as well as live and on-demand streaming on discovery+. This is the first time Formula E will be broadcast behind a paywall, having previously been shown on ITV, Channel 5, BBC and Channel 4. The most recent free-to-view agreement, which was with Channel 4, was announced ahead of the 2021/22 season but has not been renewed. According to Formula E, the 2022/23 season was "the most competitive and exciting season yet" and saw a viewership increase of 4% to 225 million compared to the previous season. Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds said this was "incredible news" for those who already watch premium live sports on TNT.

Back of the net partnership for Unilever and UEFA

UEFA has announced a first-time partnership with global leader in consumer goods, Unilever, as an official sponsor of UEFA Euro 2024. The partnership is a multi-brand partnership allowing Unilever to showcase its renowned Nutrition and Personal Care business groups through branding across UEFA real estate at stadiums and digitally. Unilever brands will also collaborate with key retail partners throughout Europe to offer football fans who purchase Unilever products the opportunity to win prizes such as match tickets and other exclusive experiences. Guy-Laurent Epstein, Marketing Director at UEFA, highlighted the reach of Unilever's Nutrition and Personal Care brand portfolio and said the partnership would bring a new dimension of engagement for fans. The value of the deal is as yet unreported but is being described as a significant breakthrough for UEFAnificant breakthrough for UEFA.


Extra time...

... ...and finally, some personal news: Sports Ticker has scored a century. Since November 2019 it has been our immense pleasure to provide commercial updates from the sports world and we have now reached the milestone of 100 editions. Throughout those editions we have covered sports-related legal cases, the biggest sponsorship and broadcasting deals, the impact of Covid-19 on sporting events around the globe, and much more. Notably, the last four years has seen a significant increase in the interest in and value of esports and women's sports, both of which we have covered extensively. For a reminder of some of our favourite stories from the last 100 editions, please watch our celebratory video on LinkedIn here. The RPC Sports Group looks forward to our next 100 editions, and in the meantime wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Stay connected and subscribe to our latest insights and views 

Subscribe Here