IAAF & Nestle sponsorship enhances global Healthy Kids Programme


The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has agreed a five-year deal which will see Nestle become the main sponsor of its Kids’ Athletics programme.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Swiss food and nutrition giant will provide financial support for the further worldwide development of IAAF Kids’ Athletics which is one of the biggest grassroots development programmes in the world of sports. Created in 2005, the programme had reached a cumulative audience of 1.5 million children across 100 territories by the end of 2011. The Nestle sponsorship will further boost the programme allowing the IAAF to organise additional courses for lecturers and coaches and eventually to reach a larger number of children in existing or new markets.

The programme aims to make athletics the No.1 participation sport in schools, to educate children into sport in general and athletics in particular, promote a balanced and healthy lifestyle, and to attract and sustain the potential sporting stars of tomorrow. “IAAF Kids’ Athletics is one of the central pillars of the IAAF Athletics’ World Plan, our association’s strategic policy which, as we celebrate the IAAF centenary in 2012, is designed to ensure that the sport of athletics and its world governing body are fit and ready for the tasks of the next 100 years,” said IAAF president Lamine Diack.

“Our five-year sponsorship with Nestle, a company with a global reputation in nutrition, health and wellness, will help to ensure that the central goals of IAAF Kids’ Athletics are not only met but enhanced,” he said. “It will allow athletics to reach out to millions more kids to encourage them to take up a healthier lifestyle.”

Janet Voute, Nestle’s vice-president of public affairs, added: “Over and above supporting IAAF’s Kids’ Athletics, we believe that this will further enhance the Nestle Healthy Kids Programme, which aims to raise nutrition, health and wellness awareness of school age children around the world. Our programme reached an estimated six million children in 60 countries in 2011.”

Flagship Euro 2012 Stadium finally unveiled


Poland’s showpiece venue for UEFA Euro 2012 was unveiled on Sunday, marking the final stadium to be completed ahead of this summer’s tournament.

Warsaw’s National Stadium was originally scheduled to open in June 2011, but its progress has been delayed due to concerns over the design of features such as the evacuation stairs. However, the 58,000-seat venue marked its opening ceremony with a music festival on Sunday. “I am very happy that the National Stadium has been finally unveiled,” said Poland’s tournament director, Adam Olkowicz, according to UEFA.com. “It’s the biggest Polish venue for this year’s final tournament.”

Olkowicz added: “On June 8, we will witness the opening ceremony here followed by the first match between Poland and Greece. As of now, all of the Euro venues in Poland and Ukraine are ready and we are working hard to prepare them for this big festival of football.”

Built at a cost of Eur473 million, the National Stadium lies on the site of the old Tenth Anniversary Stadium, which had opened in 1955. The old venue held its last intentional game in 1983, after which it fell into disrepair. The new stadium will be the cornerstone of Poland’s staging of Euro 2012 and is set to host six games, including the opening match and one semi-final.

The National Stadium is one of five venues constructed especially for this summer’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine, along with the Arena Gdansk, Municipal Stadium Wroclaw, Arena Lviv and Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium. The Municipal Stadium Poznan and Metalist Stadium have been redeveloped, while Shakhtar Donetsk’s Donbass Arena opened in August 2009.

Wolves hold on Phase 2 development plans

Wolverhampton Wanderers has decided to postpone the start of the second phase of the redevelopment of Molineux Stadium, and the new Steve Bull (East Stand) will now not begin at the end of this season.
The club is owned by Redrow Construction boss Steve Morgan, who said it would be prioritising a £6 million redevelopment of its training ground and academy centre.
“The club remains committed towards the redevelopment of Molineux and work on diverting the main services will start immediately.”
“Work is currently being carried out on the new £18 million Stan Cullis stand by Buckingham Group which will be completed by the start of the 2012/13 season.” Wolves Chief Executive Jez Moxey said

Portsmouth FC facing HMRC winding-up order

Portsmouth FC’s parent company administrator has claimed that they are facing a winding-up order from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, making a need for an investor even more pressing.
Andrew Andronkiou, administrator of Convers Sports Initiatives and the owner of the club, has described the situation as “extremely serious”, as Pompey reportedly owe HMRC £1.6million following an unpaid PAYE bill.

Saracens to get go ahead on redevelopment plans

Saracens’ plans to spend £20 million to revamp Barnet Copthall stadium have been recommended for approval by planning officers, providing the Rugby Union Premiership champions with a new home in 2013. It will now go before the Barnet Council planning committee meeting next week.
Nigel Wray, Saracens chairman, who will fund £10 million of the project himself

UEFA’S last wake up call for Clubs on FFP


UEFA has warned European football faces its “last wake-up call” as it revealed the losses of the continent’s top clubs jumped by 36% to Eur1.64 billion in the 2010 financial year.

UEFA on Wednesday unveiled its fourth club licensing benchmark report with the headline details coming in the financial health of the European game. The report covered the financial figures of 665 clubs – 90% of all top-division outfits – and revealed that while revenues rose 6.6% to reach a record Eur12.8 billion, costs also rocketed by Eur1 billion to Eur14.4 billion. This has led to 56% of clubs making a loss with total debts of Eur8.4 billion.

The figures come as UEFA prepares to implement its financial fair play rules. The 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. 

However, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said 13 clubs currently playing in the Champions League and Europa League would have failed the break-even tests required from the 2013-14 season. “It’s the last wake-up call that this red trend has to be inverted very, very quickly if we want to safeguard European soccer,” said Infantino, according to Bloomberg.

Clubs that flout UEFA’s rules could be banned from fielding new players, be deducted points or face limits on squad sizes in European competition, as well as fines and exclusion from competitions. However, while UEFA has as yet been unable to establish whether its proposed sanctions comply with European Union law it has stated its determination to ensure rule-breakers are punished.

Alasdair Bell, UEFA’s senior lawyer, said the organisation is willing to take the “risk” and defend itself in court if a leading club challenged any punishments. “The system is not going to have much credibility if a big club that is in serious breach of the rules is not punished in an effective way,” he said. “For me the sanctions need to be effective enough that people come into compliance with the system otherwise clubs are going to become disillusioned rapidly.”

Cricket Ireland Announces its Plan to achieve full Test status by 2020


Cricket Ireland has announced details of a new commercial programme that will underpin its ultimate goal of becoming a full Test nation by 2020.

Ireland currently has associate nation status within the International Cricket Council (ICC), but has performed impressively at recent World Cups and has long harboured ambitions of joining the Test fold. The establishment of the country’s inaugural first-class domestic structure and increased commercial funding to fund extensive grassroots programmes were among the initiatives unveiled by Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom on Tuesday.

“We have set ourselves a very clear long-term ambition – to become a full Test nation by 2020, nothing less,” he said. “This is not a dreamy aspiration but a real ambition founded on the playing talent being developed on this island, the growing passion and profile of the game here, a sustained and proven track record of achievement on and off the field, and a clear roadmap set out by us for how to get there.”

Deutrom confirmed that a number of new commercial funding deals are in place, while Cricket Ireland’s principal sponsor RSA Insurance is understood to have extended its deal until 2015. “We have and will continue to receive fantastic support from RSA Insurance as our main commercial partner and we look forward to extending the scale and scope of that support,” added Deutrom. “A formal announcement of this and other commercial deals will be made in the coming weeks. This allows us to proceed with confidence as we work towards our vision of becoming a Test nation by 2020.”

RFL steps in and secures future of Rugby at The Odsal Stadium


The Rugby Football League (RFL) has announced the acquisition of Odsal Stadium in a bid to ensure the long-term future of one of the sport’s most historic venues.

The League, which is the governing body of rugby league in England, has paid an undisclosed sum at what it describes as “market value” which will allow Super League team Bradford Bulls to remain at their home stadium. Ownership of Odsal by the RFL will safeguard the stadium at a time when the economic downturn has seen the proposed development of a sporting village concept put on hold.

“This arrangement is absolutely the right thing to do because it safeguards the future of one of the sport’s most famous stadia,” said RFL chairman Richard Lewis. “Odsal is famous throughout the world and it would be a tragedy were the venue to be lost to the sport in the way that other evocative rugby league venues have already been lost. We have paid market value for the stadium and the Bulls will pay market value rental to the RFL to play their home fixtures at Odsal.”

Bradford Bulls chairman, Peter Hood, added:  “This is excellent news for Bradford Bulls, for the Bradford district and for the sport. Odsal is an iconic rugby league venue and is strategically important to the Bradford district, located as it is at the head of the city’s principal access corridor. The sale to the RFL safeguards our immediate future and keeps all the options open once the economy recovers from recession.”

Odsal held a long-standing world record for rugby league’s biggest attendance when 102,569 fans watched a Challenge Cup final replay between Halifax and Warrington in 1954. This record was eclipsed following the opening of Stadium Australia in Sydney in 2000.

Audiences on the increase as Racing attendances hit record high in 2011

More people attended British horse racing events than ever before in 2011 as total attendance at race courses topped 6.15 million for the first time according to the Racecourse Association.

The previous record was set in 2004, with a more stable economy, but the latest results exceed it by 100,000 visits. The latest figures were reportedly helped by good weather and more aggressive promotion of the sport by racecourses, along with other initiatives designed to take racing to a broader audience. The sport saw its highest attendances in July when over a million adults went racing to 147 fixtures. Children are not included in the numbers as they are allowed in free at almost all race meetings. Of the 60 racecourses around Britain, 37 saw a rise in average attendance and improvements were witnessed in most months of the year. In April 2011, 26 racecourses participated in a ‘try racing for free’ offer organised by Racing for Change, an industry promotional body. The activity resulted in an additional 63,000 adults through the turnstiles, many of whom were new customers or lapsed race goers. In October, Ascot hosted the first-ever QIPCO British Champions Day, attracting over 26,000 visitors and saw competition between many of the best horses in the world, including Frankel. The sport’s growing popularity on the track was also been mirrored in TV viewing figures with both Channel 4 and the BBC reporting increases in their audience numbers. In 2011, 9 million viewers saw the Grand National, an increase of one million on the previous year.

Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association commented: “I am very pleased to see racecourse attendance on the up for a third year in a row and to break the previous record is fantastic.”Financially it is a very difficult time for people at the moment, so it is a vindication of the exemplary work.

Premier League make history with their first ever free-to-air Game.


Television viewers in the UK will next month be able to watch the first free-to-air Barclays Premier League game in the 20-year history of the division.

Premier League broadcast partner ESPN has announced a promotion which will see all of its content available on a free-to-air basis from February 3-6, including league leader Manchester City’s clash with Fulham on February 4. ESPN’s Free Weekend, which is being sponsored by Nokia Lumia, will make ESPN and ESPN HD available to all Sky, TopUp TV and BT Vision subscribers in the UK and Ireland. Additionally, the channel will be available for free to the 10 million UK households who have the subscription-free digital TV service Freeview, meaning that in total some 20 million UK households will have free access to the channel.

All live English top flight football has been broadcast on pay-television since the Premier League began in 1992. ESPN’s Free Weekend will also offer football from Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s 1.Bundesliga, along with action from the National Basketball Association (NBA), men’s ATP tennis and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).