Pearson completes Hull FC takeover

Hull FC, an English rugby league club that competes in the Engage Super League, has been bought by Adam Pearson

The takeover brings to an end 12 years of control by a five-strong board of directors led by chair Kath Hetherington, although Pearson will leave the day-to-day running of the club to James Rule, who will retain his role as chief executive. Pearson is a former chairman of Npower Championship club Hull City and returned to the football club after a spell at fellow second-tier outfit Derby County.

The 46-year-old, who served as commercial director at Leeds United before leading a takeover of Hull City in 2001, tried to buy Hull FC as far back as 2002. According to a club statement, Pearson will continue in his role as head of football operations at Hull City following the takeover.

“I have now purchased the entire shareholding of Hull FC and will be investing further funds into the club in order to ensure it can now kick on and develop into one of the very strongest Super League clubs,” said Pearson.

“Hull FC has a strong tradition in the game and now needs to progress and develop into a major force in the domestic and international game,” he added. “The previous owners have done a fine job initially stabilising and then progressing the club and brand of Hull FC over the last decade. Everyone connected to the deal felt the time was right for Hull FC to change ownership and therefore reinvigorate the development and progress of the club.”

Hull FC was formed in 1865 and is thought to be one of the oldest rugby clubs of either code still in existence. However, the club has enjoyed mixed fortunes in recent years. Hull FC was knocked out of the Carnegie Challenge Cup by Leeds Rhinos on Sunday and has won only one play-off game since reaching the Super League Grand Final in 2006.

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ESA Sponsorship Awards open for entries

Sponsors, rights holders and agencies have been invited to enter their most successful campaigns for the 2011 European Sponsorship Awards.

The Awards, organised by the European Sponsorship Association (ESA), are the only pan-European sponsorship awards that celebrate excellence across all sectors, including sport, culture, entertainment, media, community and corporate responsibility. For 2011, the ESA has added two new categories, with one targeted at rights holders and governing bodies and the second focusing on media sponsorship.

“There is an opportunity for everyone to be involved, no matter what the size of budget,” said ESA chairman Karen Earl. “We have categories covering Business to Business, Business to Community, Business to Consumer, Business to Employee and the Rights Holder Award – the latter to reflect the success of their sponsor partnerships.”

Earl added: “In addition, there is a multi-national award to celebrate the best campaign that has been activated in a minimum of three different countries, with at least one country being in Europe. Last year MasterCard was our multi-national winner for its outstanding UEFA Champions League sponsorship that reached numerous markets. We also saw a project from Latvia prove that a carefully thought out, creative sponsorship campaign executed on a small budget, can exceed the objectives set.”

Award entries will be judged by an independent panel of European industry experts, and winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in Amsterdam on November 22 as part of ESA’s two-day annual conference, Future Sponsorship. The deadline for entries is September 19 and those submitted by September 5 will benefit from a special early-bird discount.

The 2010 ESA Awards attracted a host of entries from 10 European countries with brands such as AEGON, British Gas, BT, O2, Philips and MasterCard all being crowned winners. Full entry details are available at www.sponsorship.org.

NRL could trump AFL in new rights deal

The National Rugby League’s (NRL) new broadcast deal could surpass the Australian Football League’s (AFL) record-breaking TV agreement.

The AFL recently struck a $1.2 billion broadcast deal over five years, but Colin Smith, a senior adviser with LEK Consultancy, told a meeting of the NRL chief executives that the League could earn as much as $1.4 billion through the new rights tender for five seasons from 2012. The NRL’s current agreement generates $500 million over six years.

According to various reports, CEOs were told that there are three different proposals on the table for the next broadcasting deal, with the first valued at $1 billion, the second at $1.2 billion and the third at $1.4 billion.

“Foxtel’s pay-television (audiences) for NRL is up 20% and then you look at State of Origin, (where there were) just under 11 million viewers,” Smith said, according to Sportal. “It just demonstrates the NRL fan loves rugby league and loves it on television, which is very promising going forward for the media rights negotiations.”

Smith added: “We actually haven’t come up with a dollar figure at this stage because we are waiting for the new independent commission to be formed. When that happens we will have a discussion with the commission and give them some views of value.”

NRL chief executive David Gallop has refused to speak about target figures, but said: “I know you’d love to me to tell you a number but I’m not going to. We’re certainly conscious of the result the AFL got and we’re conscious of how our game’s going so you can draw your own inferences from that.

Nine systems to be tested in goal-line technology trials

Nine goal-line technology systems will undergo tests in a bid to be approved for match-day use next season, FIFA has announced.

World football’s governing body did not disclose the identities of the nine Europe-based candidates, which will be examined between September and December by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. Rule-makers at the International Football Association Board will study the results early next year and will invite the best systems to a second round of trials.

“Each company’s respective technology will be scrutinised across a broad range of criteria, in both daylight and floodlit conditions,” stated FIFA. “Using a pass or fail assessment system, the testing period will measure the technology’s recognition of free shots on goal, with 100% accuracy required, as well as static and dynamic accuracy tests, to 90 per cent accuracy in the first phase.”

FIFA added: “Also under examination will be the individual goal-line technology systems’ transmissions to officials in the result of a goal, with both a vibration and visual signal required to be sent to the referee’s watch. This indication must be received wherever the referee is positioned on the field of play, or within the technical areas.” Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore stated earlier this week that he is hoping that goal-line technology will be introduced in time for the 2012-13 season.

NFL owners approve new CBA, but union stops short of confirming deal

The head of the National Football League (NFL) Players Association last night appeared to play down suggestions that an end to the lockout was imminent despite owners having voted to approve a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

DeMaurice Smith stated that there were still “unresolved” issues in the new agreement, which was backed by 31 out of 32 NFL owners on Thursday, with the Oakland Raiders abstaining. In announcing that team facilities could open as early as Saturday, the League threw down the gauntlet to the union, with the start of pre-season scheduled for the second week in August. However, the NFL confirmed that the annual curtain-raiser, the Hall of Fame game, would not go ahead as scheduled on August 7.

The union still has to ratify the proposal from the NFL and, according to Yahoo Sports, Smith stated in an email to players: “As you know the owners have ratified their proposal to settle our differences. It is my understanding that they are forwarding it to us. As you may have heard, they apparently approved a supplemental revenue sharing proposal.  Obviously, we have not been a part of those discussions.”

Smith added: “As you know from yesterday (Wednesday), issues that need to be collectively bargained remain open, other issues such as workers compensation, economic issues and end of deal terms remain unresolved. There is no agreement between the NFL and the players at this time.” Union stakeholders were scheduled to hold a conference call meeting last night, but it could be days before an official vote takes place.

Just hours earlier on Thursday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had stated: “We are pleased to announce that our clubs have approved the terms of a long-term negotiated agreement with the NFL players. It includes many positive changes that emerged from a spirit of compromise rooted in doing what is best for the game and players. DeMaurice Smith and his team, and the players and owners involved in the negotiations, deserve great credit for their skill and professionalism.”

Goodell added: “If approved by the players, this agreement will allow the league and its players to continue to benefit from the NFL’s popularity and will afford a unique opportunity to deliver to fans an even better, safer, and more competitive game in the future. On behalf of the NFL, our teams and players, I want to express our deep appreciation to Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan. Judge Boylan was the court-appointed mediator, but his contributions far exceeded that role.”

UniCredit subsidiary invests in Euro 2012 national sponsorship

Ukrsotsbank PJSC has been unveiled as the official bank of UEFA Euro 2012 in Ukraine.

The UniCredit-owned retail and investment banking company has been recruited as the third national sponsor in Ukraine for the tournament, which will be co-hosted by Poland. Ukrsotsbank will be responsible for all financial transactions and account handling in relation to the tournament.

“Euro 2012 involves a number of financial transactions, from the payment of suppliers to the handling of ticketing and corporate hospitality sales’ accounts and it is therefore extremely important to be able to count on the expertise of Ukrsotsbank in this respect,” said UEFA Events CEO David Taylor. Ukrsotsbank CEO Boris Tymonkin added: “UniCredit is a strong player in the European market where most people are football fans and we share the same values with UEFA.”

Gianni Franco Papa, head of the Central and Eastern Europe Division of UniCredit, added: “The sponsorship of the Euro 2012 marks another significant milestone in UniCredit’s commitment to sport. Euro 2012, as with our sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League, will enable us to bring the finest football events and emotions closer to the countries where the Group is present. This sponsorship will further increase our brand awareness in Central and Eastern Europe, a key region for UniCredit, and it specifically demonstrates the Group’s strong and dynamic commitment to Ukraine

Rugby World Cup returns to TSN in Canadian rights deal

TSN has acquired the Canadian broadcast rights to the next two editions of the Rugby World Cup.

According to Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL), the deal will deliver unprecedented coverage within Canada of the 2011 tournament in New Zealand and the 2015 competition in England. TSN will televise all of Canada’s pool matches as well as some other selected pool matches, the quarter-finals, semi-finals, bronze final and the final itself in high definition on its TSN and TSN2 channels.

With TSN carrying the Rugby World Cup for the first time since the 1995 tournament in South Africa, extensive coverage will also be provided via TSN.ca and TSN Mobile TV. RWCL managing director Mike Miller described the deal as “a significant boost for the reach and profile of rugby in Canada”.

“TSN is Canada’s leading sports broadcaster and is renowned for its high quality broadcasting of major international sports events,” said Miller. “They will bring their unique sound, style and passion for live sport to a tournament that is firmly established as one of the world’s premier sports events.”

TSN vice-president of programming Shawn Redmond added: “Rugby World Cup is a huge, internationally-celebrated event that attracts billions of viewers from across the world and continues to grow in popularity in Canada. We are looking forward to showcasing rugby’s marquee event to Canadian sports fans across all TSN platforms as the Canada team takes on some of the finest teams in the world.”