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.

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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.

Adidas & England Cricket, Extending a Winning Partnership

Adidas has renewed its sportswear partnership deal the England cricket team for another four years.

The new agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will run from 2013-17 and will give the German company the exclusive right to supply match and training wear to all England teams, including the Test, one-day and Twenty20 sides as well as England women, youth and disability teams. It is the second major financial deal to be secured by the ECB in a matter of weeks after Investec was signed up as the new title sponsor of England’s home Test matches for the next 10 years.

The agreement has also been struck with England riding high at No.1 in the Test rankings following Test victories over Australia and India this year. Adidas became England’s official team-wear supplier in 2008. “Since we signed our partnership in 2008, we have worked extremely closely with the ECB and individual players to ensure the England teams have the best technical apparel required to allow them to be at the top of their game,” said Robin Money, the head of sports marketing for Adidas UK and Ireland.

ECB commercial director John Perera added: “Major global brands want to be associated with winners and we are delighted that both our men’s and women’s teams have achieved major successes on the international stage since entering into partnership with Adidas. Over the last three-and-a-half years, the England Test side has reached No.1 in the ICC’s world Test rankings, the England T20 side has won an ICC global event for the first time and our women’s team were victorious in both the Women’s World Cup and the Women’s World T20 tournament.”

Perera continued: “Adidas has provided world-class support for all our England teams throughout this period and we look forward to working ever more closely with the company over the next four years to secure even greater exposure for the Team England brand.”

UEFA DRIVES ON WITH FORD

UEFA Champions League founding partner Ford has extended its long-running association with the tournament through to 2015.

The automotive giant has been an official partner and official vehicle supplier for the Champions League since 1992. In renewing the partnership with UEFA, Ford will celebrate 20 years of being a sponsor. This will be commemorated in the special designation, ‘Ford, Sponsor since 20 years’. “This shows how strongly we feel about this partnership,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO for Ford of Europe. “For a global company like ours, the UEFA Champions League is an ideal platform to connect with millions of consumers around common values. It is all about the best of the best on the ultimate stage and that’s why Ford wants to be part of it.”

Ford is the third of six official sponsors to have concluded an agreement with UEFA for the 2012-2015 period of the Champions League. UniCredit Group and Heineken extended their sponsorships of the Champions League in the build-up to this year’s final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United.

David Taylor, CEO of UEFA Events, added: “We are delighted that Ford has chosen to extend their agreement with UEFA and the UEFA Champions League for another three years. They have been a valuable partner of ours since the inception of the competition back in 1992. This renewal in our partnership further strengthens the close relationship we have. The UEFA Champions League continues to go from strength to strength and we are confident that it will carry on providing Ford with excellent opportunities to connect and engage with fans on a global basis.”

US Grand Prix back on for 2012

United States Grand Prix organisers have announced that construction work has resumed on a new circuit in Austin, Texas, after the US event was named as one of 20 races on the 2012 Formula One season calendar.

According to BBC Sport, Ecclestone has been attempting to seal a deal with the new promoter – but at a reported price of US$35 million per year rather than the $25 million at which the race was initially awarded the deal. However, race organisers have now confirmed that the race fee has been paid, sealing the US GP’s place on the 2012 calendar. Red McCombs, chairman of McCombs Enterprises and founding partner of Circuit of The Americas, said: “Mr Ecclestone received his cheque today. We want to thank the fans supporting us, the local officials and businesses that have encouraged us, the State of Texas, Circuit of The Americas’ staff and Bernie himself.”

McCombs, a fellow founding partner of Circuit of the Americas, added: “I want to thank and commend Bobby Epstein for getting us across the finish line. Bobby’s perseverance and leadership kept the project on track despite unfair and unfounded criticism. Our investors have believed all along that this project has tremendous benefit for our region, and provides a strong economic engine for the future. We remain committed to reaching our goal of being valuable community partners as we establish a platform for sports and entertainment.”

The US GP will take place on November 18, while the Bahrain GP has been handed a race date of April 22. However, the Bahrain event is under increasing threat because of continuing civil unrest in the country. On Sunday, a bomb exploded outside the British embassy, and BBC Sport has reported that if the unrest continues Bahraini officials are likely to cancel the race in the New Year, stating they do not want to put F1 at risk by bringing the sport into a volatile environment.

The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix was cancelled after months of controversy following civil unrest in February in which more than 40 people were killed. The 2012 Formula One season will commence in Melbourne, Australia on March 18 before concluding in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 25.

 

Along time coming, but Goal Line technology is on the Way!

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has stated that Brazil’s 2014 World Cup will utilise technology to prevent “phantom goals” affecting games.

Blatter, speaking to Spanish sports newspaper El Mundo Deportivo, has stated that FIFA has narrowed down its options in terms of the companies that are bidding to introduce technology into the game. The 2010 World Cup saw a high-profile example of a ‘phantom goal’ as England midfielder Frank Lampard saw an effort ruled out despite the ball having clearly crossed the line in a Round of 16 tie Germany went on to win 4-1.

“Brazil 2014 will have technology to avoid phantom goals,” said Blatter. “FIFA has two good systems that meet all the demands we set: reliability, immediacy and not being difficult to use.”

Nine goal-line technology systems are currently being tested by an independent authority appointed by FIFA, with a final decision expected by July 2012. The International Football Association Board (IFAB), football’s law-making body, is due to assess the results of the current testing phase in March at a meeting in London.

Companies that meet FIFA’s strict criteria are then expected to be invited to a second phase of tests between March and June before the IFAB meets to vote on the issue in July. The IFAB is composed of the English FA, Irish FA, Welsh FA and Scottish FA – who all receive one vote. FIFA, which acts on behalf of the rest of the world, has four votes meaning its support is crucial for any change to the laws of the game.