Facebook to broadcast FA Cup match live

A piece of sports broadcasting history will be made on Friday as the opening match of the new FA Cup season will become the first game to be broadcast live on the Facebook social network.

The landmark deal has been reached thanks to an agreement between the Football Association (FA) and the competition’s new lead partner Budweiser. The American beer brand in June signed a three-year deal to partner the world’s most famous club knockout tournament and the beer brand sees the Facebook initiative as the perfect way to announce the start of its agreement.

The extra preliminary round tie pits Ascot United against Wembley FC and will be streamed straight from the Budweiser UK Facebook fan page. The 90-minute live stream will be available via an application Budweiser has built specifically for the world’s largest social network. It will open up a game that would traditionally attract around 90 spectators to Facebook’s 700 million global users.

Iain Newell, marketing director of Budweiser UK, said: “As a long-standing supporter of football globally, Budweiser is committed to bringing the world’s most prestigious knockout competition closer to the fans. What better way to demonstrate this than by broadcasting the very first kick to a global audience via Facebook. This is the first time an FA Cup tournament fixture has been broadcast live on the social network, which is great news for football fans and clubs alike.”

City’s Etihad deal faces UEFA questions

UEFA Club Financial Control Panel chairman Jean-Luc Dehaene has revealed he has “some questions” about Manchester City’s groundbreaking sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways.

Etihad last month struck a 10-year deal for the naming rights to the Barclays Premier League club’s stadium as well as shirt sponsorship and funding for the proposed new Etihad Campus. The partnership, reportedly worth £400 million, has prompted criticism from some quarters that it is an attempt to circumvent European football’s strict new financial fair play rules. Etihad is the national airline of Abu Dhabi, whose ruler is the half-brother of City owner Sheikh Mansour.

Dehaene told BBC Sport: “I have some questions, yes. But it would be dangerous for our authority if we take judgements without facts. If we see clubs that are looking for loopholes we will act. It is not enough to say, ‘we’ve got a sponsorship contract and that’s okay’ if the contract is out of line.” In an interview on Monday, City’s chief executive Gary Cook said: “We’ve got a great relationship with Etihad. It’s a long-term programme and they are equally very excited by it.”

United plans $1 billion Far East flotation – reports

Manchester United’s mooted partial stock market flotation in the Far East is targeted towards the club’s huge Asian fan base, according to a financial expert.

Owners of the Barclays Premier League champion, the Glazer family, are planning to reduce their stake in the club, according to widespread reports on Tuesday. It is believed that an initial public offering (IPO) could raise US$1 billion for a 25% to 30% stake in the club with the flotation viewed as a method to reduce United’s sizeable debt, which has been a continual source of concern for its fans.

Although United has refused to comment on the reports it is believed a listing on either the Singapore or larger Hong Kong Stock Exchange could be approved by the end of the year. The Florida-based Glazer family acquired United for £790 million in 2005 in an agreement that saw the club de-listed from the London Stock Exchange. While the Glazers reportedly plan to remain in control at Old Trafford, a partial flotation would reduce the club’s debt, which exceeds £500 million.


Celtic post positive financial result

Celtic chairman John Reid can see the positive side after the club reduced its debt and recorded a small profit for the year ending June 2011 in the face of a poor economic climate.

The Scottish Premier League club announced its preliminary results for the year with net bank debt falling £5.32 million to £530,000, while a £102,000 operating profit was reached compared to the previous year’s £2.13 million loss. Celtic’s figures were aided by the record £9.5 million sale of Aiden McGeady to Spartak Moscow, but the club was faced with the damage of an early exit from European football on top of the financial mess that is currently affecting the Scottish game.

As a result turnover fell 14.8% to £52.56 million, while revenue dropped £9.16 million to £52.56 million. Reid said: “Turnover decreased…affected by the reduction in European matches and the ticket and broadcasting revenues that they generate, and a decline in merchandising sales in a difficult retail market,” Reid said in his annual statement. “Against this background, the achievements of everyone at the club – management, staff and our faithful supporters – appear even more outstanding.

“To achieve and maintain financial stability, and attain a very manageable debt position, while continuing to invest significantly in strengthening the football squad and generate profit in the football sector in Scotland in these conditions is highly commendable. And yet, as our annual report shows, as a result of these efforts and our activity in the transfer market, we managed to turn last year’s loss into break-even, to reduce our debt considerably and still invest a substantial amount in new players.”

London Olympic Village sold in £557 million deal

London’s Olympic Village has been sold for £557 million to a joint venture between Delancey and Qatari Diar, the property arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Under the terms of the agreement, the joint venture has acquired homes on the Olympic Village site in Stratford, East London, and has snapped up long-term management rights, according to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). Delancey and Qatari Diar will buy 1,439 homes that will become private housing after the Olympics as well as six adjacent future development plots with the potential for a further 2,000 new homes to be built.
According to Reuters, Delancey and Qatari Diar edged out a rival bid from Hutchison Whampoa and most of the homes will be rented out rather than sold by the joint venture. The other half of the village, comprising 1,379 homes, had already been purchased for £268 million and will be operated by Triathlon Homes.

“This is a long-term project for us – we are looking to retain the neighbourhood and create a place where people will want to live, work and play for years to come,” read a statement from Delancey’s chief executive, Jamie Ritblat. The Village cost £1.1 billion to build.

Jeremy Hunt, the UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, hailed the transaction as “a fantastic deal that will give taxpayers a great return and shows how we are securing a legacy from London’s Games”.

Arsenal toasts new Carlsberg deal

Arsenal has agreed a three-year deal that sees Carlsberg become the club’s official beer partner.

The new partnership grants Carlsberg exclusive marketing rights on a global basis, enabling the Danish brewer to promote its association to millions of Arsenal fans across the world, in support of its ambition to be the fastest growing global beer company.

As a major player in the Asian market, a key area of Carlsberg’s focus will be on engaging with Arsenal’s large and rapidly growing fan base in that region, following on from the club’s successful pre-season tour to Malaysia and China. The agreement was reached ahead of Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League season opener, which saw the club secure a goalless draw at Newcastle United on Saturday.

“We are delighted to announce our new partnership with Carlsberg, a truly global brand with real history and heritage within football,” said Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s head of global partnerships. “Following our Asia Tour, as we focus on further engaging with our international fan base, Carlsberg are a perfect brand to be partnering with given their strength and reach in over 140 different markets worldwide.”

Keld Strudahl, Carlsberg’s international marketing director, added: “Arsenal and Carlsberg have much in common. Both are well known, established brands, recognised around the globe. In the run-up to next year’s European Championships, at which Carlsberg has been an official sponsor since 1988, it is great that we have partnered with another international football club which has a strong following, not only in Europe, but also in Asia – Carlsberg’s target markets.”

Nokia to replace Airtel as Champions League Twenty20 sponsor

The tournament’s CEO, Sundar Raman, posted the news on his personal Twitter account, although further details have not been revealed. “Nokia signs up as title sponsor of Champions League Twenty20,” stated Raman. The next edition of the competition will run from September 23 to October 9 in India.

Airtel agreed a five-year deal to sponsor the tournament, which has been held in the company’s homeland of India in three of the four years of the event. However, Airtel’s decision to curtail a partnership reportedly worth US$8 million per year after just two years was confirmed last week by ESPN Star Sports, the tournament’s official broadcast partner.

Indian media reports stated that Airtel’s deal had an exit clause that allowed it to withdraw from the tournament if the ratings did not match expectations. The Champions League, launched by the cricket boards of India, Australia and South Africa, gathers the world’s leading Twenty20 club teams, but has endured a challenging time since the inaugural 2009 event.

The tournament’s scheduled first season in 2008 was cancelled after the Mumbai terrorist attack in November of that year. Since that time the event has struggled to generate strong television ratings in comparison to the all-powerful Indian Premier League. ESPN Star Sports splashed out nearly $1 billion in 2008 for the 10-year broadcast rights to the tournament.