Barcelona & Real Madrid Join forces for Commercial Gain

ThaiBev has brought together bitter rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in a three-year marketing deal worth a reported US$16.5 million.

In what has been described as an unprecedented agreement linking together the two clubs, the deal with the La Liga giants has been sealed to help raise the profile of the company’s Chang Export beer brand, Chang soda and Chang drinking water in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia. Chang will be allowed to use the logos of both clubs and images of their players on product packaging and in advertisements.

ThaiBev will spend another $16.5 million on marketing activity for Chang products in the next three years, including bringing Spanish clubs to play in Thailand. Matthew Kichodhan, ThaiBev’s senior vice-president for international business, told the Bangkok Post that Real Madrid will support the launch of new Chang products in Thailand, while Barcelona’s brand will be utilised across the whole of Asia. “We’re happy to be in partnership with the two football clubs, as they’re popular with a lot of fans worldwide,” he said.

The agreement furthers Chang’s presence in the football market, where it currently serves as shirt sponsor to Barclays Premier League club Everton. “After three years with the Everton partnership, the image of Chang beer was more premium,” added Kichodhan. Under the three-year deal with Barcelona and Real Madrid, sales of all products under the Chang brand, both domestic and export

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Olympics on course to come in under budget!

UK Sports Minister Hugh Robertson marked the 150-day countdown to the start of London 2012 on Tuesday by claiming that the Olympics is unlikely to utilise the entire £9.3 billion public funding package for the event.

Sky claimed that costs were rising due to further spending on areas such as additional anti-doping control officers, paying Underground workers not to strike, governmental operational costs and legal bills over the controversial Olympic Stadium tenancy decision. Indeed, the broadcaster reported that additional costs would further swell this figure with police being given £1.1 billion in counter-terrorism funding and a £4.4 billion budget allocated for security and intelligence services. Sky stated that the extra cost of having 12,000 police officers on duty during the Games and the £6.5 billion being spent on transport upgrades could bring the ultimate cost of the Olympics to more than £24 billion.

However, Robertson said he was increasingly confident that the project would come in under budget and that the government would “not quite empty the piggy bank”. He added: “It is fair to say we are increasingly confident we can land this on time and within budget. It is enormously encouraging that we are 96% complete and still have £500 million in the budget.”

 

Glamorgan CCC report losses for 2011- but forecast better times ahead

Glamorgan County Cricket club have reported an operating loss of £1.7million for the financial year ending December 31 2011.

The Welsh county’s financial performance was influenced by the £1.2m loss sustained from staging England’s rain-affected Test against Sri Lanka last May.

The retained loss for the year amounted to £3m after the club took into account additional charges associated with the SWALEC Stadium re-development project.

Last month Glamorgan announced that terms had been agreed with their existing lenders and new investors for a financial restructuring that will put the club on a sound financial footing for several years.

Glamorgan chief executive Alan Hamer said: “Our 2011 results put into perspective the financial challenges the club has faced over the past few years.

“The challenging economic environment and the burden of servicing the debts were compounded by the losses incurred in staging last year’s England v Sri Lanka Test match and further one-off charges.

“If you exclude these, the underlying performance of the business was comparable to the previous year. Whilst last year’s financial results were extremely disappointing, the club’s financial future looks much improved and our accounts have been given a clean bill of health by our auditors.

“Last September, the club was awarded a gold international match package by the England and Wales Cricket Board, which will now see the SWALEC Stadium stage a further 17 days of international cricket in the next five years at greatly reduced fees.

“Our 2012 membership numbers are also the highest they’ve been for the past five years and over 60% of the tickets for both this year’s England v South Africa one-day international and Friends Life t20 finals day have already been snapped up.”

Chairman Barry O’Brien added: “Over the past 12 months, the club has had to deal with some significant challenges. Action has now been taken to address these and the other factors contributing to the losses incurred in 2011.

“The recent announcement confirming that the club had successfully restructured its finances will have a material beneficial impact on the club’s future financial performance. We can look forward to 2012 and beyond with renewed confidence.”

Rebrand for the Rose Bowl with new Sponsor

Hampshire Cricket’s ground will be renamed the Ageas Bowl following a new six-year naming rights deal with the insurance company.

The stadium, formerly known as the Rose Bowl, will undergo an immediate rebranding. While no financial details were released, Hampshire stated that the deal represents “significant long-term investment” into the English cricket club. The ground opened in 2001 and hosted its first Test match in June 2011, when England faced Sri Lanka. The venue will host two England one-day internationals this summer against the West Indies and South Africa.

“Ageas have recognised the legacy we are building at the venue and wish to add to the excellent work done by the club and the Hampshire Cricket Board,” said Hampshire Cricket chairman Rod Bransgrove. “They are as keen as we are to be involved in the community and to create a lasting legacy for people in Hampshire, utilising the power of sport, and cricket in particular, to engage with them and the wider region. The name of our ground is important and so I am happy that we are partnering with a company based here in Eastleigh and together we can share an exciting future.”

Barry Smith, CEO at Ageas UK, added: “This partnership provides us with an excellent platform to continue to raise the profile of the Ageas brand in our local area. The Rose Bowl has generated local and international recognition for cricket but also hosts a number of prestigious events including concerts and family events. With the developments of a new hotel and golf course, we very much look forward to continuing to work with the club on what will prove to be a very exciting partnership.”

Premier League continues its fight against copyright infringements

Pub landlady Karen Murphy has won her latest legal fight over her use of a foreign satellite TV decoder to transmit English Premier League games, but the League has maintained that it will continue to fight against copyright infringements.

Murphy has paid nearly £8,000 in fines and costs for using the cheaper Greek decoder in her Portsmouth pub. However, after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last year ruled partly in her favour, London’s High Court backed up the finding on Friday. Instead of paying £700 per month for a BSkyB licence to broadcast Premier League matches, Murphy utilised the signal of Greek Premier League rights holder Nova, which instead cost her £800 per year. The ECJ in October ruled that football fans in the EU should be allowed to choose the cheapest method of watching games on television regardless of exclusive national broadcast agreements, stating that such legislation was “contrary to EU law”.

The High Court has now ruled that Murphy’s appeal over using the decoder to bypass controls over match screening must be permitted. However, the judge added that other complex issues regarding the wider legality of screening matches would have to be decided “at a later date”. Ahead of the hearing Murphy told BBC Radio Solent: “I hope at some time in the not too distant future the market will be opened up to a reasonable choice of product to buy. As I’ve said before, you can have any other product and you have a choice of buying any other product, and that’s the way it should be.”

Friday’s ruling comes after the Premier League’s court action against importers of foreign satellite TV decoder boxes and cards led to both sides claiming victory earlier this month. A High Court hearing had seen the League state it will now take action against pubs for breach of copyright, while satellite importers claimed they were free to carry on their business. The ECJ’s October ruling did include one area that fell in favour of the League, alongside its findings on the exclusivity of national broadcast agreements. For showing games in pubs, the court said parts of the transmission such as opening video sequences, the official Premier League anthem and certain graphics were “works” protected by copyright and their usage would require authorisation from the League.

This month’s ruling saw the High Court declare that in some respects foreign satellite equipment importers had been in breach of Premier League copyright by allowing the transmission of foreign broadcasts in the UK, but added that the League had only managed to prove its claims of a breach to a “limited extent”. The ECJ’s ruling was the one that the Premier League reiterated after Friday’s court judgement. The League said in a statement: “Following the news that Karen Murphy’s appeal to the High Court has seen her conviction overturned the Premier League would like to make clear that this decision does not change the outcome of the QC Leisure foreign satellite case.”

The statement added: “In that judgment (QC Leisure), made on 3 February 2012, Lord Justice Kitchin was consistent with the ECJ ruling and made it clear that the law gives us the right to prevent the unauthorised use of our copyrights in pubs and clubs when they are communicated to the public without our authority. That unauthorised use gives rise to both civil and criminal penalties. Therefore should Mrs Murphy, or any other publican, use European Economic Area foreign satellite systems to show Premier League football on their premises without our authority and outside the scope of our authorisation, they make themselves liable for us to take action against them in both the civil and criminal courts.”

National Trust & London 2012 in tandem for the Olympics!

Box Hill woodland scrub cleared for Olympic cycle races

Up to 15,000 fans will be able to watch the Olympic cycle road race at Box Hill in Surrey as a

result of the The National Trust cutting back woodland scrub to create a spectator area on

both sides of Zig Zag Hill.

Spectators may be charged to watch the cycle race from the prime vantage point, and

London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton said it would be perfectly appropriate to consider

charging for the tickets because of the work put in to create the space.

The National Trust said the woodland scrub was cleared after the London Organising

Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog), carried out wildlife surveys into the long-term

management of the area’s habitat. The Trust hopes it will also encourage species such as

small blue butterflies and man orchids to return to the area.

Andy Wright, National Trust countryside manager for Box Hill, said: “It’s great news that so

many people will be able to enjoy the races in this wonderful natural setting.

The Olympic road cycling race will start in The Mall in London on 28 and 29 July and from

Richmond the athletes head off on a large loop through Surrey taking in Walton on Thames,

Weybridge, West Byfleet, West Horsley and Dorking. The cyclists will ride a 9.6 miles-circuit

around Box Hill, including the National Trust’s Zig Zag Hill.

Green Issues stall stadium plans for Bristol City

Bristol City stadium bid hit by legal row

Bristol City’s bid for new 30,000-seater football stadium has been hit by legal row which

could take up to a month to sort out. Protesters want Ashton Vale made into a town green,

but Bristol City Football Club wants to build on the land.

A High Court judge will have the final say in the next month on whether a change in claimant

would be allowed. A claimant behind a judicial review stood aside, but lawyers said they

wanted to appoint a substitute. In a letter to the High Court the protester behind the judicial

review said he wanted to withdraw his challenge and he did not want a substitute claimant to

take his place.

The council said the case had been “discontinued” while the football club said the “review is

at an end”. But lawyers acting for Ashton Vale protesters said the “notices are invalid and do

not reflect the instructions of the claimant”, adding that he did not remember signing the

document.

The legal challenge surrounds land in the south of the city that Bristol City Football Club

wants to build a 30,000-seater stadium on. It was originally granted planning permission in

2009, before an independent inquiry said the land should be made a town green. Last year,

a Bristol City Council committee said only half the land could be a town green with the other

half to be used for the football stadium.