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.”

Leaders provides winning formula for JSP

Jordan Sports Partnerships, JSP, leading sports solutions consultancy and Expense Reduction Analysts, ERA, teamed up to make a winning team at the recent Leaders in Sport Summit on the 5th & 6th October.

The event held at Chelsea Football Club and in its fourth year was attended by over 1,500 key senior delegates from the elite sports World. The event has quickly become the top annual Sport Summit, attracting the great and the good from all corners of the globe and all major sports.

Managing Director for JSP, Dominic Jordan stated ” This is must attend event for organisations of our kind. It provides the ideal central forum for us to connect with our existing and prospect clients within an environment that is designed for serious business to be discussed.” he added ” With our new alliance with ERA we felt it was a perfect opportunity to show case our offerings to the key stakeholders and decision makers in attendance. We have taken full advantage and managed to create precious new leads, nurtured prospects and spent valuable time with existing clients, as well as listen to top industry speakers and take in what is new and on offer in the exhibitors area”!

For further information on JSP’s services visit their website fill out the ‘contact us’ details section and you will recieve a call you back within 24hours to discuss how JSP can be of service.  Alternatively email or telephone +44(0) 207 084 7230

Stern cancels two weeks of regular-season NBA games

National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner David Stern has cancelled the first two weeks of the 2011-12 regular season after 11th hour talks on Monday failed to resolve a three-month old lockout.

After seven hours of talks with the players’ union on Monday, Stern confirmed the cancellation of 100 scheduled regular-season games through to November 14. The NBA chief’s move to call off the games had been widely anticipated after little progress had been made in discussions over a new collective bargaining agreement in recent days, and Stern admitted to reporters that the two parties remain at loggerheads over a number of key issues.

“We just have a gulf that separates us,” Stern said. “With every day that goes by, I think we need to look at further reductions in what’s left of the season.” The move to cancel the regular-season fixtures has come after the 114 scheduled pre-season games were scrapped due to the dispute.

“I’m sorry to report, and I’m sad to report, that we’ve cancelled the first two weeks,” Stern said. “We certainly hoped it would never come to this. We think that we made very fair proposals. I’m sure the players think the same thing. But the gap is so significant that we just can’t bridge it at this time.” The regular-season schedule was due to begin on November 1, but the lockout has dragged on since July 1.

The main stumbling block remains the division of revenues, with the owners seeking a 50-50 share while the players’ union is determined to receive at least 53% of around US$3.8 billion every year. Union president Derek Fisher’s outlook was bleak. “This is not where we choose to be,” Fisher said. “We’re not at a place where a fair deal can be reached with the NBA.”

West Ham’s Olympic Stadium deal collapses

The UK Government will announce later today that the Olympic Park Legacy Company’s (OPLC) deal to allow West Ham United to move into the Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 Games has collapsed.

According to the BBC, the OPLC has curtailed negotiations amid concerns over delays caused by ongoing legal challenges from Tottenham Hotspur and Leyton Orient to the decision to award the stadium to London football rival West Ham after the 2012 Olympics. The OPLC, government and Mayor of London have instead agreed the stadium will remain in public ownership.

There has also been an anonymous complaint filed to the European Commission, claiming that the £40 million being provided by Newham Council to West Ham represented “state aid”. Before the club was relegated from the Barclays Premier League at the end of the 2010-11 season, West Ham secured “preferred bidder” status from the OPLC.

According to the Press Association, the Government is expected to release a statement at around lunchtime UK time to confirm that the Olympic Stadium will remain in public ownership and leased out to an anchor tenant following a new tender process. It is likely that under the new tender process any costs of transforming the stadium after the 2012 Games will be covered by the OPLC.

West Ham’s hopes of moving to the venue have not been extinguished, though. Reports suggest the club will be encouraged to bid in the new tender for the Olympic Stadium rights.

Gill talks up “potential” of United flotation

Manchester United chief executive David Gill has spoken of the “potential” offered by the club’s partial flotation on the Singapore Stock Exchange, adding that United’s owners are waiting for the right time to launch the listing.

The Singapore Stock Exchange last month approved United’s application for a partial stock market flotation with the move coming shortly after the Barclays Premier League champion reported record full year profit and revenue figures. The club’s financial results for the year ending June 2011 outlined annual operating profits of £110.9 million, while revenue increased to £334.1 million, up £45 million on the previous year. It is believed that an initial public offering (IPO) could raise US$1 billion for a 25% stake in the club.

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. The takeover saddled United with a sizeable debt, which the club’s latest results reported at £308.3 million. The flotation is viewed as a method to reduce this debt, which has been a continual source of anger to its fans, and Gill, speaking for the first time about the move, acknowledged that it is a method to further enhance the club’s financial standing.

“It’s a potential,” he told the Sunday Telegraph. “I think the finances of the club are in robust health in terms of the bond interest against the EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) that we do have, so in that respect I am not concerned. But it was an opportunity, and is a potential opportunity, to strengthen them even further. If the proceeds were by and large used to pay down the bond debt then that would take some of the interest costs out.”

With regards a timeline for the flotation, Gill added that the Glazers are still in consultation with their advisory team, which includes Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, and Credit Suisse. “It is not officially on hold but the owners will be taking appropriate advice from the advisors and determining what the markets are telling us,” Gill added. “But I don’t think it’s the level of the market – it is the sheer volatility. That’s the challenge.”