Third Party Ownership- PL & LFP Bid to lobby UEFA.

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England’s Premier League has joined forces with the French Football League (LFP) in a bid to lobby UEFA over the controversial topic of third-party ownership.

UEFA this month stated it is set to investigate whether the policy of selling player transfer rights to investors discriminates against the likes of the Premier League and Ligue 1, where the practice is banned. The policy has long been standard practice amongst Portugal’s top clubs, who can raise funds by selling part of their rights to future transfer fees, and it is now spreading to Spain and Turkey as clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to secure credit from banks.

UEFA’s head of club licensing, Andrea Traverso, has previously admitted the issue of selling transfer rights is a concern ahead of the implementation of financial fair play (FFP) rules by European football’s governing body. UEFA’s FFP rules are set to come into play in 2013-14 and will analyse clubs’ accounts for the previous three years, starting with the current 2011-12 financial year. Clubs competing in European competition will be permitted to lose just Eur45 million over these three years. Both the Premier League and LFP believe third-party ownership poses a real threat to the integrity of European competition and could potentially see English and French sides left behind.

“Third-party ownership is prohibited under Premier League rules as we believe it threatens the integrity of the game,” said a spokesman for the Premier League, according to Goal.com. “We are aware that it is permitted under UEFA’s financial fair play regulations and that this could create a disadvantage for our clubs competing in European competition.”

The spokesman added: “We believe that restricting transparent owner equity investment while having no prohibition on third-party player investment seems at odds with the principles of FFP. The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) also restricts third-party ownership and we have had initial discussions with them to consider how we might work together to further highlight these issues at UEFA and FIFA level.”

International Football Referee admits taking Bribes

A Chinese referee, considered one of China’s best, has admitted in court to taking bribes to fix local and international matches, including making sure a local team won the toss in a friendly involving Manchester United, state media has reported.

The case of Huang Junjie, a referee for more than 20 years who has been nominated as one of the country’s best, is one of a number of hearings under way following a probe into Chinese football corruption.

He accepted $245,000 of bribes to fix two international friendlies and taking 20 bribes from six Chinese clubs between 2005 and 2009, Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

The international matches included a 2007 exhibition match between the English Premier League’s Manchester United and China’s Shenzhen. Huang took 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($13,000) in bribes to let Shenzhen win the coin toss, Xinhua said. Manchester United went on to win the game 6-0.

The other international match was a 2009 fixture between Shanghai Shenhua and Australian club Sydney, which the Chinese club won 2-1. 

Huang, who was nominated as China’s referee of the year in 2009, also took bribes from his colleague, referee Zhou Weixin, to sway results, Xinhua said. Zhou is charged with corruption and bribing civil servants.

Their trials in northeast China are part of a crackdown on Chinese football corruption that has implicated players and top officials including the former head of the Chinese Football Association

Guinness & The Super Eagles Soar to New Heights!

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Guinness has signalled its intention to return Nigeria to its place on world football’s top table after agreeing a two-year extension to its sponsorship agreement.

 

The agreement brokered by the Nigerian Football Federation’s (NFF) official marketing consultant, Pamodzi Sports Marketing, will see the beer brand further its long-running backing of Nigerian football, which has been in the doldrums in recent years. As part of the renewal, Guinness has confirmed it will bring another world-class international team to play Nigeria in 2012. This year’s first edition of ‘Guinness The Match’ saw the national team defeat Argentina 4-1.

“The NFF is proud to continue working alongside Guinness on this journey to greatness over the next 24 months,” said NFF president Aminu Maigari. “We have some audacious goals, with CAN 2013 (Africa Cup of Nations) and the FIFA World Cup 2014 on the horizon.” Managing director of Guinness Nigeria Plc, Devlin Hainsworth, added: “In keeping with our stature as the first choice beer of football fans, Guinness has been an ardent supporter of and significant investor in the NFF, the Super Eagles and the nation’s millions of football fans for over a decade.”

Hainsworth continued: “On behalf of those fans, we are delighted to continue our partnership with the NFF and show our support for the Super Eagles as they strive for greatness and embark on a new chapter in their journey to reclaim their status among the elite teams in the world. This, (contract renewal) will be the first of many announcements planned over the course of the year.”

SPL Approve Standing Areas within Stadiums

The SPL are hoping the approval of safe standing areas will prove attractive to clubs and fans and add ‘theatre and drama’ to Scottish football.

From next season, clubs will be free to introduce a German-style system, with rails effectively providing individual crush barriers for every row of terracing, aimed at giving supporters a security conscious take on the historical standing experience.

Celtic and Motherwell are apparently among the clubs to have shown an interest in taking a pilot scheme, although it is reported that several other clubs are watching with interest.

SPL CEO Neil Doncaster is hoping that grasping this initiative, could reverse the recent trend of falling attendances. “Supporters want choice and we have to respond to what supporters want and they have indicated in numbers that this something they would like to see happening.”

It won’t be cheap for any team, with the SPL, at pains to stress that the modern take on old-fashioned standing-barriers that may convert back to seats for European games, does not equate to merely opening up terraces. And given the investment involved, supporters might even find themselves paying a premium for the right to stand!

However if it is shown to “put feet on concrete”, as opposed to bums on seats, with 80 per cent more people able to get into a standing area than a similar seated section, this may prove to be an idea with a true win-win situation!

Here We go Again! Bidding Re-opened 2012 Olympics Stadium

The bidding process to use the London 2012 Olympic stadium after the Games has been re-instigated today with West Ham the favourites to become the tenants but the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) will consider a ground-share.

OPLC have confirmed they will accept a ground-share bid from a football and a rugby team, and that retaining the athletics track is non-negotiable.

The Liberty Stadium in Swansea, home to Swansea City and the Ospreys, is seen as a successful model of a ground-share scheme.

The OPLC will also be open to selling the naming rights on the stadium, with the tenants receiving a cut of the income.

The original deal for West Ham to take over the stadium collapsed in October due to legal challenges from Tottenham and Leyton Orient, and under the new process the OPLC will spend around £95million on converting the stadium to a 60,000-seat venue for the new tenants.

If the tenants want to have retractable seating over the running track, as West Ham are considering as part of their bid, they would have to cover those costs themselves.

The deadline for the bids is in March with a decision due in May, and the stadium reopened in 2014.

Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said: “The Government is committed to securing a legacy from the Olympic Stadium, and wants to see it re-opening in 2014.

“With the 2017 World Athletics Championship bid won, athletics will be at the heart of a multi-purpose venue that will also be a great asset to the local community.

“The Olympic Stadium is an iconic venue and I am sure that it will attract interesting and exciting bids for its future use.”

The OPLC will retain control of a number of days for the stadium. Some of these are reserved for athletics including the London Diamond League meeting, and others could be used for Twenty20 cricket, concerts and American football – talks have already been held with the NFL.

London mayor Boris Johnson, who said in October that West Ham would “almost certainly” become the tenants, added: “Opening up the bidding to other interested parties now shows just how far ahead we are in planning a great future for east London long after the Games have left town.”

Newham council are expected to become a partner with the OPLC to operate the stadium and have offered up to £40million towards the cost of transforming the stadium.

The tenants can bid to rent the stadium for between five years and 99 years, with an annual rent to be paid and possibly a cut of any ticket revenue.

The bids will be evaluated by the OPLC who will then make recommendations to the Government and mayor of London.

Jonstones’s & Football League Painting a Bright Future!

Johnstone’s Paint has renewed its sponsorship of The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for a further three seasons. The announcement was made at Wembley Stadium, with the release of thousands of multi-coloured balloons to symbolise Johnstone’s commitment to ‘bringing colour to the beautiful game’ through until 2014/15, extending the premium paint brand’s association with The Football League to nine years – the longest sponsorship in the competition’s 29-year history.

In welcoming the deal, Football League Chairman Greg Clarke said: “I am delighted that we have extended our successful sponsorship with Johnstone’s Paint.

“They have worked extremely hard to help us raise this competition’s public profile and popularity with supporters.  I look forward to further strengthening our relationship during this next stage of our partnership.”

The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy has gone from strength to strength during the first six seasons of the sponsorship following a package of reforms designed to raise the appeal of the competition.  Changes included the scrapping of extra-time, increased regionalisation in early rounds and a renewed commitment from clubs to fielding first-team sides in matches.

For clubs in Leagues 1 and 2, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy continues to offer the opportunity of a dream final at Wembley Stadium and for Johnstone’s the sponsorship has developed brand strength and visibility.

Johnstone’s Paint Marketing Director, Jason Metcalf, believes the sponsorship has created a huge buzz across the brand’s network of Decorating Centres and thousands of independent stockists, which have benefitted from a host of football themed community projects and ticket giveaways.  He said: “More than five million fans have watched Johnstone’s Paint Trophy matches, in grounds and on television, since the sponsorship began and Johnstone’s Paint has also engaged with up to two million people through numerous community projects.

“So with this in mind, it is clear to see why we are all so thrilled to be extending our sponsorship. It has been one of our biggest success stories and we couldn’t be happier to be reinforcing our relationship with the clubs and their legions of fans.”

Successful community projects include a search to honour selfless non-league managers in 2010, along with a competition for young bloggers to write about their teams’ trophy exploits last season.

A shirt amnesty for World Emergency Relief in 2009 – where communities in South Africa were given hundreds of football shirts to train and play in – was also a resounding triumph.

Johnstone’s Paint also present a number of popular, long standing awards which continue to generate huge interest amongst fans, including the regular Ultimate Finish and Team of the Round trophies which are presented after each round of the competition.

Wind knocks the (festive) Stuffing out of Wolves Revamp Target.

Wolves’ stadium revamp hit by high winds
High winds have held up completion of the new roof over Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Stan Cullis stand, say contractors Buckingham Group.
The £16m revamp at Molineux began in May and season ticket holders were told the roof would be in place by the end of this month, but the club and contractor have now written to season ticket holders to tell them the roof will not be ready until February 2012.
Supporters are able to use the uncovered lower tiers while work is going on as part of the construction plan designed to maintain Molineux’s capacity during work.
The club said high winds have hampered progress with lifting steel into place so fans will have to watch an extra four Barclays Premier League games without any completed roof in place.

Spurs Go Private!

Tottenham Hotspur’s shareholders on Tuesday approved the club’s delisting from the stock market as chairman Daniel Levy fired another salvo in the war-of-words over London’s Olympic Stadium.

The Barclays Premier League club last month announced its proposal to return to private ownership in a bid to assist its funding plans for a new stadium. The North London club is currently listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) with its intention to de-list being part of a new focus on the Northumberland Park development next to White Hart Lane following its defeat in the Olympic Stadium bid.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) was in October instructed to start a new process to secure tenants for the Olympic Stadium post-London 2012 after February’s original decision to award the stadium to West Ham United sparked legal challenges from Tottenham and third tier team Leyton Orient. Tottenham had sought a judicial review in the belief that a £40 million loan from Newham Council gave West Ham an unfair economic advantage and made the original decision unlawful.

Speaking at Tuesday’s annual general meeting (AGM) Levy hinted that Tottenham was duped into bidding for the Olympic Stadium. “We were certainly encouraged to bid for the stadium, but knowing what we now know in terms of the government’s requirement to retain the (running) track, if we’d known that at the beginning we would not have bid,” said Levy, according to Reuters.

Tottenham reportedly needs to raise £300-£350 million to build the new 60,000-seat stadium at Northumberland Park, and Levy has previously stated borrowing money will be easier if the club is privately owned. The club’s AGM outlined that the earliest date Tottenham can be re-registered as a private limited company is January 17.

NBA SLAM DUNKING COMMERCIAL PARTNERSHIPS

The National Basketball Association (NBA) on Tuesday announced a new multi-year partnership with Under Armour just a day after sealing extensions to commercial agreements with AutoTrader.com, Budweiser and Gatorade.

“Partnering with the NBA allows us to showcase our innovative basketball footwear and roster of young, talented players through a platform that represents the pinnacle of the sport,” said Matt Mirchin, senior vice-president of global sports marketing for Under Armour. “We share a passion with the NBA to help young basketball players get better, and our joint court refurbishment program will create more access to functional basketball courts where the next generation can hone their skills.”

AutoTrader.com’s new multiyear extension will allow it to continue to serve as the presenting partner of the NBA Tip-Off show on TNT, as well as be the presenting partner of all pre-game shows on NBA TV. The season-long involvement with the popular NBA pregame show gives AutoTrader.com brand exposure in up to 45 regular-season games on the cable network. Clark Wood, AutoTrader.com’s chief marketing officer, said: “This multi-layer partnership enables us to keep the AutoTrader.com name front and centre throughout the season and reach millions of passionate fans. With this kind of ongoing exposure, we can be sure those fans see, hear and know our name when they’re ready to buy or sell a car.”

In other news, Budweiser will continue as the official beer partner of the NBA. This announcement extends Budweiser’s long-standing relationship with the league which dates back to 1998. “The NBA has been an important component of our sports sponsorship portfolio, and we’re excited to continue building on our 13-year partnership with the league,” said Rob McCarthy, vice-president of Budweiser.  “One of the biggest advantages of the renewal is our ability to integrate Budweiser into key dates on the NBA calendar, including the highly anticipated Christmas Day games, All-Star Game and NBA Playoffs, through unique, fan-centric experiences.”

Meanwhile, Gatorade will continue as the official sports drink partner of the NBA with its agreement including the new designation of official sports performance nutrition partner. Gatorade is the NBA’s longest-standing marketing partner dating back to 1984 and the partnership will expand internationally into Brazil, Italy and the United Kingdom, while Gatorade will continue to engage NBA fans in Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and Puerto Rico. “Since Gatorade was first poured on the NBA sidelines, we have evolved from a US-based hydration company to a global sports nutrition provider,” added Sarah Robb O’Hagan, Gatorade president and chief marketing officer for global sports nutrition. “Not only will we continue to provide Gatorade products to the pros, but we will spread the message about the importance of sports nutrition to up and coming athletes.”

BBC & ITV team up for 2012 Euro’s

UK public-service broadcaster the BBC and commercial broadcaster ITV have jointly acquired the rights for the UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament.

The BBC will show the England national team’s group game against Sweden on June 15. ITV will televise England;s group games against France on June 11 and against Ukraine on June 19. The BBC will then have first pick of the quarter-final matches. ITV will also show two group stage matches featuring the Republic of Ireland, who are likely to be the second-biggest draw for UK audiences after England. ITV will show Ireland’s matches against Croatia on June 10 and Spain on June 14. The BBC will show Ireland v Italy on June 18.

The deal leaves UEFA with just France out of the big five European markets in which to do a deal for the tournament. In both the UK and France it has struggled to get broadcasters to meet its valuation of the tournament due to a lack of competition. Adam Crozier, ITV’s chief executive, said last week that the rights fees the channel has paid in its latest sports rights deals had been lower than what previous rights-holders were paying. The BBC and ITV were also the rights-holders for the previous edition of the tournament, Euro 2008.