Football League starts Cup sponsor search

The Football League is on the lookout for a new title sponsor for its showpiece cup competition for the first time in 14 years after Molson Coors declined to extend its current deal.

The beer company, through its Carling brand, has backed the League Cup since 1998 and its current deal expires at the end of this season. The Football League revealed that Molson Coors’ exclusive negotiating period concluded without agreement being reached on an extended term.

“This is the first time in 14 years that this sponsorship has been available in the marketplace and we look forward to offering potential sponsors the rare opportunity to put their brand on one of domestic football’s major competitions,” said Football League chairman Greg Clarke. “The growth in popularity of English football on the world stage, which has led to the League Cup being broadcast in more than 150 countries, means that this is also a sponsorship with global appeal.”

Chris McDonough, marketing director of Molson Coors (UK & Ireland), added: “Carling’s sponsorship of the League Cup has been extremely successful and helped to reinforce its status as the UK’s best-selling lager and one of the leading supporters of football in this country. We continue to be very proud of our work with the Football League in transforming the perception of the competition amongst football fans and despite the contract being up for renewal in 2012 we are continuing to discuss the future of the competition with The Football League.”

Title success boosts Red Bull Racing’s finances

Red Bull Racing’s first Formula One constructors’ championship allowed the team to post a £2.8 million pre-tax profit last year, according to team principal Christian Horner.

The Austrian outfit has become the dominant force in F1 over the past two years and saw Sebastian Vettel add to the constructors’ championship by securing the drivers’ title in 2010. Red Bull Racing is wholly-owned by the Austrian energy drinks giant through its UK holding company Red Bull Technology. Horner revealed that the £2.8 million profit figure was 75% based on the F1 operation, with the remainder coming from other projects.

Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber’s exploits last year boosted the team’s prize money to about £56 million and also contributed to a rise in sponsorship income as Pepe Jeans, LG and forex broker FXDD joined the team’s portfolio. “The biggest increases for us, on the revenue side, were a 20% increase (in prize money) from Formula One Management and sponsorship,” said Horner, according to The Guardian.

Red Bull Racing looks on course to repeat its 2010 success this season with Vettel only one point away from retaining his title, as the team enjoys a huge 138 point lead in the constructors’ championship. Red Bull acquired the team from Ford in 2004 and has since ploughed considerable resources into developing it. Red Bull Racing’s accounts show that in 2009 it covered £96.9 million of the team’s £132 million costs but Horner said it now provides less than half. “The cost of Formula One to Red Bull is below 50% (of our expenditure) and is continuing to reduce,” he added.

Lockout sees NBA postpone camps and cancel preseason games

The National Basketball Association (NBA) lockout made its first major inroads into the sport’s calendar on Friday as the league postponed training camps indefinitely and axed 43 preseason games.

Ahead of the lockout the players’ union (NBPA) reduced its counter proposal to 54.3%, the equivalent of $100 million per year of additional revenue to the owners over a five-year term. However, with NBA commissioner David Stern having warned that the league will make a $300 million loss in the 2010-11 season, the two sides were still $7 billion apart in their demands over a 10-year CBA.

Friday’s news sees the cancellation of all games scheduled for October 9-15, while the training camps were set to begin on October 3. “We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”

The league dropped the remainder of its preseason schedule on October 6 in 1998, when the regular season was reduced to 50 games due to the NBA’s last work stoppage. This remains the only time the league has lost regular season games and commentators indicate that agreement on a new CBA will be needed by the middle of October if the new season start date of November 1 is to be retained.

Tottenham makes progress with stadium plan

Tottenham Hotspur has furthered its plans to redevelop its White Hart Lane home after signing a planning agreement with the local Haringey Council.

Tuesday’s conclusion of a Section 106 agreement means the Barclays Premier League club has agreed to contribute funds towards facilities in the area around the stadium should it decide to press ahead with the plan. Tottenham is seeking to transform the 36,000-seat White Hart Lane into a 60,000-capacity venue under the Northumberland Development Project (NDP) proposal that would include land currently next door to the stadium.

However, it is keeping its options open and is currently fighting the decision to hand West Ham United London 2012’s Olympic Stadium after the Games. Tottenham was granted planning permission for the NDP in October, but wants local and central government to contribute towards revamping transport and other facilities around the area. According to the Press Association, the club will now meet with the council, London Mayor Boris Johnson, and central government figures to see if they can reach an agreement.

A Tottenham statement read: “The club can confirm that the S106 agreement in respect of the Northumberland Development Project has now been completed and planning permissions have been issued. This enables discussions with the London borough of Haringey, the Mayor of London and central government to continue as we seek to make the development viable and deliverable.”

Intersport links up with Euroleague Basketball

Intersport has signed up as a new partner of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague basketball tournament for the next two seasons.

The agreement, which will run through to June 2013, has expanded a relationship between Euroleague Basketball and the global sporting goods retailer. Intersport was previously a Euroleague partner for the 2010 Final Four event in Paris and the 2011 Euroleague Final Four in Barcelona. The company already sponsors various events in international football, skiing, track and field, handball and hockey.

“We are really happy to welcome back Intersport after their support during the Final Four of Paris and Barcelona,” said Euroleague Basketball president and CEO Jordi Bertomeu. “The Turkish Airlines Euroleague offers a unique brand of basketball that is capturing new fans all the time and Intersport is giving those fans the confidence, commitment, passion, dedication and tradition that can only come from a worldwide leader in its industry.”

Intersport CEO Franz Julen added: “Basketball is a dynamic and authentic sport enjoying an ever increasing popularity. Intersport stands for expert authority, authenticity, international expansion and passion for sports. Intersport and basketball are two partners with a natural fit. Intersport was in the past a partner of FIBA World and the European Championships and the partnership with Euroleague is therefore just the next logical step.” Financial details of the agreement have not been revealed.

Barclays cites “market factors” for ending Scottish Open sponsorship

Organisers of the Scottish Open are on the lookout for a new title sponsor after banking giant Barclays decided to bring an end to its 10-year partnership with the golf tournament.

Tim Peat of Barclays Capital said that “market factors” had led to the decision to end the deal, but added that the bank would maintain “a significant presence in professional golf” with continuing sponsorship deals for golf events in the United States and Singapore. Barclays has sponsored the Scottish Open since 2002 and the organisers are hoping to recruit a new partner for the 30th anniversary of the event next July.

“We thank Barclays for their vision and leadership,” said European Tour chief executive George O’Grady. “We respect and understand that their decision was based on market factors following a hugely successful partnership that has lasted almost a decade.”

O’Grady added: “The combination of a world-class title, prime date in the week immediately before the Open Championship and stunning location in Scotland – the Home of Golf – make this a particularly attractive proposition and we look forward to securing the future of the Scottish Open with a new sponsor.”

Previous winners of the event during Barclays’ sponsorship include Ernie Els, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell. Luke Donald claimed the 2011 title thanks to a closing 63 at the competition’s new home of Castle Stuart, near Inverness

Serie A on course to hit Eur1 billion per season target

Italy’s top football league, Serie A, has accepted bids for its live rights for the next three seasons worth Eur829 million per season.

Rupert Murdoch’s satellite pay-television platform Sky Italia will pay an average of Eur561 million per season while Silvio Berlusconi’s digital-terrestrial pay-television service Mediaset Premium will pay an average of Eur268 million per season, according to TV Sports Markets. The fees represent an increase of around five per cent on the value of the same packages in the current deals.

The rights-fee payments will rise incrementally across the three seasons. In 2012-13 Sky will pay Eur558 million and Mediaset will spend Eur259 million, in 2013-14 Sky will spend Eur561 million and Mediaset will pay Eur268 million, and in 2014-15 Sky will pay Eur564 million and Mediaset will spend Eur277 million. Andrea Locatelli, vice-president of Infront Sports & Media, the league’s media adviser, said: “We are satisfied. This income will provide stability for Italian football. We wanted to push ahead with the tender process because the television industry needs to plan in advance.”

Sky’s fee represents a reduction of Eur14 million per season on what it paid for the rights in the current two-year deals, 2010-11 and 2011-12. Mediaset, on other hand, is paying over Eur50 million per season more. As in the current deals, Sky’s deal gives it the rights to all 20 Serie A teams, while Mediaset has acquired the rights to 12 teams, with the first choice of 10.

The league had put seven packages of rights up for auction but did not receive bids at the reserve prices for the other five. It will now enter into private negotiations for a second package of live pay-television digital-terrestrial rights, two packages of pay-television highlights rights, one for satellite and one for digital terrestrial, free-to-air highlights rights and radio rights.

With the international rights, the rights to the Coppa Italia and non-exclusive new media and local television rights to be sold later this year, the league is well on course to meet its target of Eur1 billion per season. The individual clubs will then sell their archive rights, which are expected to bring in a further Eur30 million per season. The league currently earns about Eur930 million per season.

BCCI cancels controversial Kochi consortium’s IPL franchise

The Kochi Tuskers Kerala franchise has lost its place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket competition after failing to make its annual payment, the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced on Monday.

Kochi, run by the Kochi Cricket consortium, joined the IPL along with Pune Warriors last season, but the team has been dogged by ownership controversy since its launch. The consortium is reported to have defaulted on an annual payment of Rs1,560 million (US$33 million) as a bank guarantee, meaning the tournament has seen the number of teams cut from 10 to nine. Following its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday, the BCCI added that the IPL’s governing council would decide whether to have another auction for a new franchise.

“Because of the irremediable breach committed by the Kochi franchise, the BCCI has decided to encash the bank guarantee in their possession and also terminate the franchise,” said new BCCI president Narainswamy Srinivasan. “The governing council of the IPL will announce more details later.”

Kochi chairman Mukesh Patel insisted the consortium would challenge the ruling. “The BCCI notice is wrong,” Patel told the Times of India. “We will take legal action against them after our legal team reviews the case in a day or two. Maybe we have to move court. We have never defaulted…The number of games in tender document was 94, they then reduced it to 74 but did not reduce the franchise fees.”

Kochi’s ownership set-up was first brought into question by former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who questioned on Twitter why 25% of the franchise had been handed to a group that included Sunanda Pushkar, who went on to marry India’s then Junior Foreign Minister, Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor later resigned amid allegations of corruption in the bidding process, although he has always maintained that his only with was to bring a team to his constituency of Kerala.

Real Madrid hits revenue record to slash debts

La Liga giant Real Madrid has claimed a new world record for annual revenue generation in football with the release of its financial figures for the year ending June 30, 2011.

Real reported that turnover, before the transfer of players, increased from Eur442.3 million in 2009-10 to Eur480.2 million in 2010-11. A club statement read: “Real Madrid closes 2010-11 fiscal year with Eur480.2 million turnover, representing an 8.6% increase over last year. It is the largest revenue obtained by any sports institution in the world.”

Real’s net profit saw a significant 31.7% rise year-on-year to Eur31.6 million. The club has also managed to take a substantial chunk out of its debt load as it fell from Eur244.6 million in 2009-10 to Eur169.7 million. “The club has managed to obtain a balanced structure of income sources, with a contribution that equals around a third of the total of each of the three great areas (stadium, television, marketing),” Real stated.

“This diversification of recurring income sources confers social stability to the club, cushioning the impact of possible income oscillations motivated by differences in performance in sports and the evolution of financial activity,” the club added. Real’s great Spanish rival FC Barcelona revealed a pre-tax loss of Eur9.3 million for the year ending June 2011. Operating income rose by 14% year-on-year to Eur473.4 million, while the club was also able to report that its net debt fell from Eur430.6 million to Eur363.7 million.

Another member of world football’s revenue generating giants released record financial figures earlier this month. Manchester United’s financial results for the year ending June 2011 outlined annual operating profits of £110.9 million, while revenue increased to £334.1 million (Eur384 million), up £45 million on the previous year. Headline pre-tax profit came in at £29.7 million, compared with a loss of £15 million last year.

McCully calls for action after transport chaos on Rugby World Cup opening night

New Zealand Rugby World Cup Minister Murray McCully has admitted that “immediate attention” needs to be paid to Auckland’s transport plan for the tournament after hundreds of ticket-holding fans missed out on the opening game of the competition on Friday.

Auckland’s transport infrastructure struggled to cope with a large estimated crowd of 200,000 that gathered for the Party Central public viewing event in Auckland, marking the New Zealand versus Tonga match on Friday. Trains and buses were stretched and some ferries had to be cancelled because large crowds swamped Queens Wharf meaning vessels were unable to berth.

“Auckland’s public transport system failed to deliver to the required standard,” McCully said, according to the New Zealand Herald. “In spite of reasonably successful trial events, there is no escaping the fact that Friday night’s performance was short of the standard required. Urgent steps will now need to be taken to ensure that these matters are rectified before the next large Eden Park match next weekend.”

A decision on compensation for those who were unable to make it to Eden Park for the game due to the transport issues will rest on a report, undertaken by Auckland Transport chairman Mark Ford and chief executive David Warburton, that is due to be handed to Auckland Mayor Len Brown on Tuesday. However, a hotline and website is to be set up for fans who missed out on the opening game, allowing them to register for possible compensation.

Brown said creating the database would be the first step in ensuring “some form of redress”. Brown added that the performance by trains was “not satisfactory at all”, but he also praised the “fabulous atmosphere” at the stadium. Meanwhile RWC 2011 Auckland co-ordination group chair Rachel Dacey has confirmed there will be no further event like the one staged on the opening night. “There are no plans at this stage to be putting on anything of this size on the closing night,” she said.