JSP Engages in the World of Rugby

JSP has signed up to attend the Rugby Expo taking place at iconic venue, Twickenham on 23-24 November.
“The Rugby Expo is the business world of rugby under one roof, over two days and is the world’s leading rugby convention”.
“The event combines a conference programme, master class workshops and live exhibition to produce the ideal environment for learning the latest developments in the game, networking and creating new business opportunities from the world of rugby”.

Dominic Jordan Founder and Managing Director of JSP stated ” We are delighted to be attending this years Rugby Expo, It is a chance to meet with the most influential people in the game, debate the most topical issues and understand more about the latest commercial developments, all designed to support the ever growing professional and grass roots games”.

“Most of all, it is a unique opportunity to meet senior executives from all over the globe and all areas of the game in a relaxed atmosphere with unrivalled access to the key decision makers from the world of rugby”.

Santander board quits club

La Liga crisis club Racing Santander has suffered a fresh setback after its entire board, with the exception of owner Ahsan Ali Syed, resigned.

Syed bought the club in January but his tenure has been controversial. Racing applied to the courts in July to enter voluntary administration amid debts in excess of Eur33 million. The club finished 12th in La Liga last season, but has found itself in serious financial difficulties following Syed’s takeover.

The Indian businessman, founder and chairman of investment company Western Gulf Advisory, had previously failed with a move for English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers before completing a deal for Racing. Club president Francisco Pernia, who angered the club’s fans last week after revealing on Spanish radio that he had bought a luxury car at the club’s expense, is one of the executives to have resigned.

The club, which picked up its first win of the season with a 1-0 victory against Real Betis on Sunday, has stated it will move quickly to appoint a new board. “Members of the Racing Santander board (with the exception of the WGA company, represented by Ahsan Ali Syed) have decided to tender their resignation,” read a club statement. “The motive for this decision is to avoid placing the club in a situation of conflict and tension that could jeopardise its unity.”

Swansea’s Liberty Stadium losses continue

English Premier League newcomers Swansea FC’s Liberty Stadium is continuing to make losses, leading to an estimated deficit of over half a million pounds.
The draft figures contained in a Swansea council report show a projected loss of £118,000 for 2010/11, meaning the stadium now had a cumulative loss of about £533,000.
The stadium, run by Swansea Stadium Management Company (SSMC), is the home of Swansea City and the Ospreys. The clubs moved to the £27 million Liberty Stadium in 2005 after the council paid most of the money to build it.

Hong Kong tennis event called off after sponsor setback

The annual Hong Kong Tennis Classic has been postponed due to a lack of sponsorship, organisers of the event confirmed on Tuesday.

The exhibition event, which was due to be staged in January 2012 at the start of the tennis season, has featured top stars such as Roger Federer, John McEnroe, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniaki in previous years. The 35-year-old tournament, though, has failed to secure a title sponsor.

“We have been forced to postpone the event in January owing to a lack of sponsorship,” Ian Wade, the Hong Kong Tennis Patrons’ Association president said in a statement. In today’s financial environment, finding a sponsor has been difficult, and this has proved to be the case.”

According to AFP, co-tournament director Terry Catton added: “I hope this is a temporary glitch and that a sponsor will step forward to assume the reins.” Organisers did not disclose how much the sponsorship would have cost.

FIFA president Blatter unveils reforms

President Sepp Blatter revealed on Friday his long-awaited plan to reform FIFA, with the announcement headlined by the decision to re-open the infamous case concerning the collapse of former marketing partner ISL.

Blatter, who was re-elected for a fourth term in office on the pledge that he would clean up the corruption plagued governing body, also announced the creation of a ‘Committee Good Governance’ along with three new task forces. The Committee Good Governance, which will be established at the next meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee in December, will oversee reforms undertaken by FIFA. It will comprise of representatives not only from the international football family but also from other spheres. However, Blatter stated he has dropped his controversial plan to invite figures such as former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and opera singer Placido Domingo to join this panel.

The three task forces would investigate changes to the FIFA statutes, changes to the ethics committee and means to make FIFA more transparent. They will be added to an existing task force charged with the task of making football more attractive ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. “I believe we have been rather ambitious in our road map, it’s a Formula One model, but we need to move forward,” Blatter told a press conference. “I feel very fulfilled and happy that the executive committee is completely in step with what we want to achieve with the national associations.”

Blatter added: “The good governance committee is a bit of a watchdog and will allow us in 2013, maybe even before, to present an image slightly better than the one we have currently. We want a fair image, which displays the will of the FIFA leadership to not dwell on the past, to face up to its problems and find solutions. Tackling problems is not enough, we need to find solutions. When FIFA is attacked, the president is attacked and I have to defend the institution and myself. I hope this transparency will help put our past concerns behind us.”

Regarding the ISL case, which revolved around the fallout from the collapse of FIFA’s former marketing partner in 2001, Blatter stated that it is his intention to release the case’s full dossier. However, this will only be done after a thorough legal analysis because of the complexity of the matter. The case will be opened at December’s Executive Committee meeting before being given to an independent body for further examination. The BBC’s Panorama programme in November reported that documents relating to a criminal investigation into the ISL collapse are believed to show that senior FIFA officials were paid bribes in return for handing the company lucrative World Cup broadcast and sponsorship rights during the 1990s.

Blatter stated: “This is an issue which has been raised by the national associations and members of FIFA. The executive committee of FIFA has decided that this case should be opened. We will therefore give this file to an independent organisation on the outside of FIFA. That is all I can tell you on this famous ISL file.”

Heineken extends Rugby World Cup sponsorship

Beer brand Heineken has extended its worldwide sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup through to 2015.

Heineken announced the new deal on Thursday ahead of the final of the 2011 tournament on Sunday between France and New Zealand. According to The Associated Press, the agreement has taken the brand’s spending on the sport to more than Eur100 million since becoming involved in the competition in 1995. The 2015 Rugby World Cup will be staged in England, with Heineken hoping the Northern Hemisphere competition will help to boost sales in Europe, its strongest market.

Heineken global brand activation manager Hans-Erik Tuijt said the International Rugby Board “is rightly trying to build rugby around the world and we help them with that”. He added: “The event provides us with a unique opportunity to continue to share stories and further develop our relationship with the growing international rugby audience. The success of our activation, be it on TV, digital and in store during the 2011 New Zealand tournament reinforces Heineken’s decision to continue to partner with the Rugby World Cup.”

ITV and ESPN secure UK Europa League rights

UEFA announced on Monday that ITV and ESPN had acquired UK broadcast rights to the Europa League from the 2012-13 season, bringing an end to commercial broadcaster Channel 5’s coverage of the competition.

Free-to-air ITV has acquired the rights to the top two live matches each match week on digital channel ITV4 followed by a round-up of the match night’s key action. In addition, ITV4 will air a full weekly highlights programme on Fridays each match week, with the potential for certain matches in the latter stages of the competition featuring UK teams being broadcast on main channel ITV1.

Pay-TV channel ESPN has secured the rights to all remaining Europa League matches and will show at least one match per kick-off slot each match week as well as highlights on the network’s premium UK television channel. The rights, which have been awarded on a “platform-neutral basis” to allow for simultaneous online and mobile coverage, will cover the 2012-15 seasons. Channel 5 has aired the Europa League since 2008.

“UEFA is happy to renew its partnership with ITV and ESPN in the United Kingdom,” read a statement from European football’s governing body. “These deals will further develop and promote the competition in the region by providing football fans throughout the UK with an extensive choice of coverage not only on television but also via online and mobile services.”

Mercedes GP agrees “key” Puma partnership

Mercedes GP Petronas has hailed the agreement of a “key partnership” after signing up fellow German company Puma as an official partner of the Formula One team.

With effect from January 1, 2012, the global sport lifestyle brand becomes the team’s exclusive licensing partner for footwear, apparel and accessories, and an official team partner. The agreement incorporates branding locations for Puma on the team’s 2012 race car, and on all race and teamwear products.

Through the new partnership, Puma will develop Mercedes GP-licensed products for global sales and distribution. A Mercedes GP statement read: “A strong emphasis will be placed on sales performance of the range in mature motorsport markets, and as the Formula One race calendar continues to expand into new markets, this sales focus will grow globally.” Puma will also provide the team, which sits fourth in the 2011 constructors’ world championship, with its latest innovations in fireproof racewear for the drivers and pit crew.

Ross Brawn, team principal of Mercedes GP Petronas, said: “Puma has a long and successful heritage in motorsport and, having worked with them previously in Formula One, I know their technical performance innovations for racewear are amongst the best in the industry, which is of course critical to our racing operation. Puma’s global capability to design, develop and distribute licensed products for fans of the Silver Arrows around the world is equally impressive.”

Christian Voigt, senior head of global sports marketing at Puma, added: “Puma is fully committed to motorsport for the long term, and signing this partnership with the Mercedes GP Petronas team is a major statement for us as a brand. Mercedes-Benz has such a rich heritage in motorsport and Mercedes GP Petronas is an exciting continuation of this story. With such talented drivers and team personnel, it’s clear they are destined for great things in the years to come.”

British Champions Series organisers buoyed by new figures

QIPCO British Champions Series organisers have revealed increased annual attendances and television audiences ahead of the flat racing finale.

The British Champions Series is designed to throw the spotlight on Britain’s best flat races and will climax on Saturday with the richest fixture in British horse racing history, the brand new British Champions Day at Ascot. According to organisers, racecourse attendances at the 27 days that have made up the new Series prior to the Ascot climax are up 7% on 2010, with 688,279 people attending. By comparison, attendances across the full British racing programme in 2011 are up by an average of 3.9%.

Average terrestrial viewing figures on the BBC and Channel  4, which have broadcast the race days between them, have seen a 33% increase on last year with 18.0 million viewers compared to 13.6 million. The total number of viewers watching these top flat races rose to 23.8 million people when peak viewing figures are used. The increases also compare favourably to 2009, with 2011 attendances up by 8% in comparison, while terrestrial television viewing figures are up by 7% compared to two years ago after a decrease in 2010 predominantly due to a clash with football’s FIFA World Cup.

“We take these figures as affirmation that interest in Britain’s biggest races is on the up, while many other sports are in decline,” said Rod Street, chief executive of British Champions Series Ltd. “We’d never claim that is all down to the creation of QIPCO British Champions Series, but this is an encouraging trend and testament to the fantastic horses we’ve see race in Britain this year and all those making an effort to promote our sport.”

Street continued: “We are also keen to attract greater international coverage of our sport, so we are delighted that BBC Worldwide has already secured sales for QIPCO British Champions Day to 75 countries around the world, with more expected to be added during Sportel in Monaco this week.” Simon Bazalgette, group chief executive of The Jockey Club, the largest shareholder in British Champions Series Ltd, added: “This is a good indication that British horseracing is on the up and we are increasing the commercial value of our sport for the long-term. Broadcasters and sponsors are getting right behind our biggest race days, and I believe we can build on this platform in 2012.”

Government calls for change at FA

The UK government has issued a February deadline for the Football Association (FA) to introduce wide-ranging reforms to the governance of the English game, including controls on club debt and more stringent checks on foreign owners.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on Wednesday published its response to a select committee report into football governance, which was released in July. The government has backed concerns that some clubs are living on the “edge of viability” and promised to introduce legislation that will force the FA to make the required changes if not approved by the end of February.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said: “This country is hugely passionate about our national game and there are many reasons we should be pleased with how it has progressed over the last two decades. However, I believe that there are improvements that can be made in the governance arrangements, which have failed to keep up with the changing pace of the modern game. I do not want Government to run football, so this is an opportunity for the football family to work together to benefit the game in the long-term.”

The Government says there should be a system of licensing for clubs where financial sustainability and robust checks on club owners and directors are included. “Debt per se is not always a bad thing, but it must be genuinely sustainable and should be assessed as a percentage of turnover,” the DCMS said. “There is a legitimate role for the national governing body, working hand in hand with competition organisers, to ensure that appropriate and consistent checks and balances are in place to protect the overall financial integrity of the national game and its long-term viability.”

Half of the Premier League’s 20 clubs are currently under foreign ownership, but high debt levels remain a concern that the government is seeking to address. “Because of the inherent attraction of English football clubs to foreign investors and markets, particularly robust criteria need to be applied to prospective owners and directors before they are allowed to own or run a club,” the DCMS added.

In a joint statement, the FA, Premier League, Football League and National Game expressed their gratitude for the “time taken and interest shown in the governance arrangements for football”. The statement added: “We shall now take time to consider the Department’s response as we formulate what the most appropriate actions might be. The FA, the Premier League, The Football League and representatives of the National Game are already engaged in this process and are committed to keeping the Minister and his Department informed of our progress.”