Breeders Cup gallops to landmark media rights partnership with NBC

The Breeders’ Cup has agreed a landmark media rights partnership with NBC Sports Group that will ensure the first live primetime broadcast of horse racing showpiece the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The multi-year deal will commence with the 2012 Breeders’ Cup World Championships from Santa Anita Park, California on November 2-3. NBC and NBC Sports Network will combine to present nine-and-a-half hours of live coverage of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup, including live primetime coverage of the US$5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on NBC on November 3 from 20:00-21:00 ET. The Breeders’ Cup returns to NBC where it was broadcast from its inception in 1984 through 2005.

The Breeders’ Cup, thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious global racing event, consists of 15 races held over two days with over $25 million in purse money at stake. NBC Sports has secured the rights following the end of the organisation’s partnership with ABC/ESPN.


RFL/Stobart Drive on to secure Title Sponsorship

The Rugby Football League (RFL) has secured a new title sponsor for the Super League in the shape of logistics company Stobart Group.

Stobart, which is the principal shirt sponsor of Super League newcomer Widnes and has naming rights to the club’s Halton Stadium, will take over from Engage Mutual Assurance as the top partner of the English game’s elite competition. Engage ended its seven-year sponsorship of Super League at the end of last season.

A RFL statement read: “The RFL confirms that Stobart Group has agreed heads of terms to secure title naming rights to rugby league’s Super League.” The length of the new deal has not been announced with further details set to be released at a news conference on Wednesday.

The new Super League season begins on February 3.

Premier Inn & WCCC partner on redevelopment plans.

£10 million redevelopment plan for Worcestershire’s New Road ground
Worcestershire County Cricket Cub is planning a £10million redevelopment of their New Road ground, including a build a 120-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and restaurant.
Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, has submitted a planning application and is investing £7.5million in the hotel and restaurant. The Club is also investing more than £2.5million to create new conference and executive facilities at the ground.

SPL Safe Standing Pilot Scheme attracting attention in the Premier League

Aston Villa looks at ‘safe-standing area’ at Villa Park
Aston Villa is looking into the possibility of a safe-standing area at Villa Park in a bid to boost attendances and improve the atmosphere.
Chief executive Paul Faulkner was encouraged by the reaction when he broached the subject with fans at a supporters’ consultation group.
Villa’s interest comes after the Scottish Premier League said they will consider requests for pilot safe-standing schemes.

Liverpool team up with Warrior Sports for record kit deal!

Barclays Premier League giant Liverpool has confirmed a major six-year kit deal with Warrior Sports, with the American firm promising to “shake up” the world of football

The agreement, announced on Wednesday, has been long anticipated and sees Warrior replace Liverpool’s long-time partner Adidas and make its first entry into the football market. Reportedly valued at £25 million per year, the agreement is the biggest kit deal in the history of English football. The deal is worth at least double the value of Liverpool’s current agreement with Adidas and also surpasses the previous £23.3 million record deal between Nike and Manchester United.

Warrior – a subsidiary of New Balance, which is based in Boston, United States – is traditionally associated with lacrosse, but the company has attempted to branch out into other sports in recent years. The new contract will come into effect from June 1 and will see Warrior create Liverpool’s home, away and third kits, as well as its training wear.

Richard Wright, general manager for Warrior Sports, said: “At Warrior Sports we pride ourselves on high performance and an incredible desire to win. Our partnership with Liverpool FC, a football institution and recognised brand name across the world, is the perfect fit. Warrior Sports has ventured into football to bring our knowledge of making top level product to a new playing field. We are not the sort of brand that is going to keep our head down. We are here to shake up the world of football and our partnership with one of the most successful club teams of all time is just the start.”

Ian Ayre, managing director of Liverpool, added: “This is another landmark deal for Liverpool Football Club and once again shows the value of the club’s brand globally. Warrior Sports will bring its own unique brand and ideas to the partnership, ensuring that they can assist us at the club both on and off the field of play. Sharing the same focus of domination and winning will be an incredibly important part of this partnership going forward. As with all our partnerships we have taken time to form a relationship with the individuals behind this opportunity. I believe that Warrior have some outstanding people we can work closely with to continue to deliver quality products to our fans around the world.”

FA extend ITV broadcast rights at reduced rate!

The Football Association (FA) has awarded ITV a new two-year deal for the broadcast rights to the pick of FA Cup games and England internationals, with the new agreement reportedly worth at least 30% less than the existing arrangement.

As part of the new agreement with the FA, the commercial public service broadcaster will continue to televise the first pick of FA Cup games from the 2012-13 to 2013-14 seasons; along with a host of other matches. In total, ITV will broadcast up to 16 live games across each season in addition to comprehensive highlights from every round.

ITV will also continue to be the free-to-air home of England internationals including all home qualifying games for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and all home and away friendlies during the two year period. The English football season’s traditional curtain raiser, The FA Community Shield, will additionally return to free-to-air television in 2012 and 2013 under the new deal.

ITV will also extend its commitment with the FA across the two seasons to encompass live coverage of six games from the FA Youth Cup on ITV4. The Guardian reports the FA’s new deal with ITV is worth £90 million over the two years. The broadcaster’s current £275 million four-year contract was due to expire at the end of this season and was signed at the height of the TV rights boom in 2007.

Stuart Turner, FA Group commercial director, said: “Having the FA Cup and England alongside other ITV content such as the UEFA Champions League and World Cups shows that our football content holds its own in exalted company. It further confirms ITV’s position as the home of free-to-air live football.” ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham, added: “The FA Cup and England internationals are events with huge resonance and appeal for our viewers.”

DFL looks at new alternative media rights opportunities

German Football League (DFL) CEO Christian Seifert has hailed the Federal Cartel Office’s decision to give its new broadcast tender the green light as a “big step” as the League prepares to test the water with a new offering.

The Cartel Office on Friday gave its approval for the tender, which concerns the rights to the 1.Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga for the four seasons from 2013-14. The European Commission has also given the procedure the go-ahead. The DFL is now set to issue a letter to all media organisations this week outlining the timeframe and rules of the tender process.

“This is a big step with regard to the pending award of media rights,” said Seifert. “The competitive principles underlying the tender are now clear.” The new tender will include two different approaches to the subject of free-to-air highlights rights.

The traditional 18:00 Saturday slot will be made available, but a second proposal will offer Internet-only early evening highlights with the 18:00 television slot moved to 21:45. The DFL will gauge interest from companies before deciding what route to take.

GCCC’s Resi redevelopment plans refused by Council!

Gloucestershire Cricket Club’s £10 million redevelopment plans have been denied by Bristol City Council’s planning committee, who refused the application to expand the 122-year-old club’s Nevil Road ground.
The decision by six votes to four means Bristol will not be able to host international cricket in the future and has opened up the realistic possibility the club itself may leave the city.
The plans were thrown out not because of the expansion of the ground itself – up to a maximum capacity of 17,500 seats – but rather the tower block of 147 flats that would help pay for it.

Stoke take the dive into water management!

Stoke City plan to save money by pumping water for training pitches
Stoke City are planning to drain water from below their £5 million Clayton Wood training complex in a move aimed at saving the club thousands of pounds.
The Potters will install underground pumps to extract about 8.3 million gallons of water per year from depths of up to 60ft using two boreholes, with the water passing through a purification system. It will then be sprayed on to the eight training pitches via 232 computer-controlled sprinklers.

ITTF serves up groundbreaking deal with the GAC Group

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has announced a “groundbreaking” sponsorship deal with the GAC Group in a move that is set to revitalise the sport’s leading competitions.

The Chinese automotive company has secured title sponsorship for both the 2012 ITTF World Tour and the 2014-15 World Table Tennis Championships. GAC’s investment is set to provide an enhanced image, as well as prize fund, to the top-tier events on the international table tennis circuit. The World Tour will replace the current Pro Tour and will boast a US$2.5 million prize fund, with $1 million allocated to the Grand Finals in December – the largest prize money in the history of the sport. GAC’s commitment to the ITTF comes on the back of its sponsorship of the 2011 World Championships in Rotterdam.

ITTF president Adham Sharara said: “The ITTF is extremely pleased to have provided an excellent return on investment at the 2011 World Table Tennis Championships. The decision of GAC Group to become the title sponsor of the ITTF’s 2012 World Tour is a great fit between the ITTF and GAC. Although the Word Championships provided high brand visibility to GAC over an intensive one-week period, the World Tour will provide regular, all year round, visibility on television providing GAC with a presence all over the world.”

Zeng Qinghong, general manager of the GAC Group, added: “Table tennis is a popular sport all over the world and the spirit that table tennis embodies are the reasons why GAC Group would like to further its relationship with world table tennis events. After the huge success of the GAC Group 2011 World Table Tennis Championships in Rotterdam we have seen that international table tennis events are an excellent way for us to further promote our growing brand both within China and beyond.”