Sky Sports and BBC to share F1 rights

Only half of Formula One’s races will be available live on free-to-air television in the UK after it was announced early on Friday morning that Sky Sports had acquired rights to the championship alongside the BBC.

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In a deal that will run between 2012 and 2018, Sky Sports will show every race, qualifying session and practice session live, while the BBC will air half the races live as well as the qualifying and practice sessions from those events. The public broadcaster will have highlights on TV, online and mobile for any race not shown live, and all grands prix will be carried on BBC Radio 5 live.

The new deal marks the first time that some Formula One races will be available live on pay-TV rather than free-to-air television in the UK. The BBC has broadcast Formula One since replacing commercial broadcaster ITV as the incumbent rights-holder in 2009. However, in March, The Guardian reported that the BBC was looking to cut its annual spending on sports rights by £60 million by 2014, and the broadcaster reportedly splashes out £40 million per year on F1.

The BBC’s existing F1 deal was due to expire at the end of the 2013 season. “This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD,” said Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis. “We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.”

Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said she was “absolutely delighted” that the Corporation had retained some rights to F1 and would “remain on the BBC”. She said: “The sport has never been more popular with TV audiences at a 10-year high and the BBC has always stated its commitment to the big national sporting moments.”

Slater added: “With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence-fee payers.” Under the terms of the new deal, BBC TV will air a number of leading races such as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the Monaco Grand Prix and the final race of the season

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Toro Extend PGA Tour Agreement

The PGA European Tour has announced a new five-year agreement with The Toro Company, one of the world’s leading providers of irrigation and turf maintenance equipment.

Toro will continue as Preferred Supplier to The European Tour through to 2015, continuing a relationship that began in 2000.

The agreement will ensure that Toro equipment and service support will be provided for The European Tour  throughout the year to ensure that all tournament venues across The European, Challenge and Senior Tours are presented in excellent condition for tournament play.

Toro supplies and services many of the world’s leading golf resorts and, through its relationship with the Tour, is seeking to further consolidate its reputation as a brand leader in this sector.

Toro was also the Preferred Supplier of Irrigation and Turf Maintenance Equipment for The 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club in Ireland and The 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.

Andy Brown, Toro’s International Corporate Accounts Manager said: “Our relationship with The European Tour has been extremely important for The Toro Company and we are very pleased to continue our support for a further five years. The European Tour has grown from strength to strength during the past decade and we are proud to be associated with them as they enter the most successful period in their history.”

David Garland, Director of Tour Operations for The European Tour, said: “Everyone associated with The European Tour has come to expect the highest level of course preparation and conditioning and our agronomy team has worked closely with Toro in recent years to ensure that these high standards are achieved.

“We are delighted to renew our partnership with Toro, who provide the essential maintenance machinery and support services in this sector, and look forward to extending our strong, long standing relationship.”

The Football League Sign Record Overseas Broadcasting Deal with Pitch

England’s oldest soccer competition, The Football League, has signed a record five-year overseas broadcasting deal with global agency Pitch International for the worldwide distribution of matches from the beginning of the 2012/13 season.

The agreement sees The Football League return to a single broadcast partner with Pitch International, currently The League’s partner in the Middle East, distributing rights for npower Football League and Carling Cup matches across the globe.

Currently, TV broadcasts of the npower Football League and Carling Cup are received in 96 different countries across Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Kieron Kilbride, The Football League’s Director of Business Development, said: “The Football League is looking forward to extending its successful partnership with Pitch International onto a global level. Their expertise in the sports rights market and enthusiasm for our competitions impressed throughout a highly competitive sales process.”

Paul McGrath at Pitch International, said: “We are delighted to continue our long running and successful association with The Football League with the announcement of this new five year agreement. The Football League and Carling Cup are exciting competitions which make compelling viewing for broadcasters across the globe and we are looking forward to reaching new audiences in the years to come.”

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Aquatics Centre opens as London 2012 marks one-year countdown

The London 2012 Aquatics Centre is being unveiled this morning as the final permanent Olympic Park venue to be completed as organisers mark the one-year countdown to the start of the Games.

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The wave-shaped Centre joins the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome, multi-use Handball Arena and the International Broadcast Centre (IBC). The 12,000-seat basketball arena is also ready for use in Olympic Park although the venue will be dismantled after the Games. According to Reuters, the final cost of the 17,500-capacity Aquatics Centre will be £232 million.

“With construction now complete on the Aquatics Centre, we are another step closer to the spectacular Olympic Park which will be host to world class sport in 2012,” said London 2012 chairman Lord Coe. Olympic Delivery Authority chairman John Armitt added: “Five years ago, in July 2006, we published a delivery timetable which set out the ambitious target to complete the main venues a year before the Games. Today, I am proud to say that we have delivered on that commitment.”

 

 

Turkish Federation delays domestic season

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) has announced a one-month delay to its domestic season as officials continue to deal with the fallout caused by the match-fixing scandal involving some of the country’s leading clubs.

The 2011-12 Spor Toto SuperLig was scheduled to commence on August 7, but has now been put back to September 9. The second tier of Turkish football, the Bank Asya 1. League, will start a day later.

The scandal has already seen a Turkish court jail 31 people pending trial on charges of match fixing, including the chairman of SuperLig champion Fenerbahce and the coach and deputy chairman of Besiktas. The TFF stated it will meet with club chairmen on Tuesday to discuss the next steps.

Fenerbahce won the league title last season after a remarkable end-of-season run of form saw Trabzonspor edged out on goal difference. Besiktas lifted the Turkish Cup after beating Buyuksehir in a penalty shoot-out. Media reports indicate Besiktas’ Cup final victory is one of 19 games highlighted in the police investigation, along with Fenerbahce’s title-clinching 4-3 victory over Sivasspor on the final day of the season.

Bin Hammam lays out Blazer accusations

Mohamed bin Hammam continued his fight against his lifetime ban from world football on Monday by calling for whistleblower Chuck Blazer to be brought before FIFA’s Ethics Committee.

Bin Hammam was handed the ban on Saturday after the suspended Asian Football Confederation president was found guilty of bribery in his campaign to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of FIFA. Speaking in his official blog on Monday, the Qatari demanded FIFA release all evidence against him into the public domain and followed this up by calling for an investigation into payments made to Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) general secretary Blazer.

Bin Hammam has accused Blazer of receiving a US$250,000 payment from the Caribbean Football Union on March 31 this year, and has questioned payments totalling $9 million made to the CONCACAF chief during the last five years. Bin Hammam told Sky News: “When you are claiming that the Caribbean (Football) Union does not have money, how come a few weeks earlier you have received from the Caribbean Union $250,000?”

He added: “And how come it is in the statements that you have received over four or five years $9 million? It is a very reasonable question really to be asked to FIFA’s ethics committee and to be asked to Mr Blazer, and I hope that they are ethical enough to open a case.”

However, Blazer has strongly denied any wrongdoing, stating the $250,000 was the repayment of a loan he’d made to former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, adding the $9 million represented his 10% commission from marketing and TV rights for CONCACAF. Blazer said: “As a precaution, I have set aside these funds and am prepared to return them should it turn out that the CFU was the source of the funds and not Jack Warner, as was represented to me.”

He added: “This percentage on marketing rights is consistent with industry standards. CONCACAF has never been in a stronger financial position. This is not in violation of any Ethics Code nor would it be a matter for the Ethics Committee.”

NFL players approve new labour deal to end lockout

The four-and-a-half-month National Football League (NFL) lockout came to an end on Monday after the players’ union unanimously agreed to a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with team owners.

Player representatives from all 32 NFL teams unanimously voted to approve a new contract over how to split US$9 billion in annual revenues. The team owners last week gave their support to the new CBA, and on Monday the NFL Players’ Association backed the agreement, which does not contain an opt-out clause.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “Football is back and that’s the great news for everybody. I want to thank all of the players for their leadership and for securing the long-term future of the game. Having a 10-year agreement is extraordinarily great for our game, but most importantly our fans. I think this agreement is going to make our game better.”

The union’s executive director, DeMaurice Smith, welcomed the end of the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987 by saying: “I know it has been a very long process since the day we stood here that night in March, but our guys stood together when nobody thought we would and football is back because of it. I believe it’s important that we talk about the future of football as a partnership.”

The new CBA has secured team owners 53% of revenues – higher than the 50-50 split with players under the previous deal, as well as better benefits for players and faster free agency for some. On Tuesday, players are expected to return to training at NFL team facilities and franchises are expected to begin signing free agents and rookies.

“We want to thank the fans who stuck with us,” NFL Players’ Association president Kevin Mawae added. “This has been a long road for everyone involved. This settlement is an essential component to what will be a long-term agreement benefitting players, owners and fans.” The season will now kick-off as scheduled at Lambeau Field on September 8, with the New Orleans Saints taking on the Green Bay Packers.