Betfair to invest in Hollywood Park Racetrack Naming Rights

Betfair has signalled its intention to revitalise horse racing in the United States by sealing a groundbreaking naming rights partnership with the Hollywood Park racecourse.

The deal has been sealed by Betfair US, the Los Angeles-based subsidiary of the British betting and gaming giant which also owns TVG, America’s horse racing network, and Hollywood Park Racing Association, the operator of Hollywood Park Racetrack in the Los Angeles area. Under the terms of the five-year deal, the venue will be renamed Betfair Hollywood Park in the first naming rights agreement ever for a horse racing venue in the United States.

Building on the success of the Betfair Lounge at Ascot Racecourse in the UK, Betfair, subject to Hollywood Park receiving assurances regarding its historic racing dates for 2013, will make significant infrastructure investments and improvements at the facility. The introduction of a Betfair Club and Betfair Lounge will aim to offer customers modern surroundings, access to state-of-the-art technologies to interact with the racing product and contemporary enhanced food and beverage options. Meanwhile, TVG will produce the Hollywood Park simulcast signal and related TVG television programming. TVG will introduce advanced graphics packages similar to those used in network broadcasts of major US sporting events to enhance the user experience and data available from the product.

Betfair will also seek to drive a younger demographic to the venue and interest that demographic in wagering on horse races – which has proven elusive for the US racing industry.  “We are deeply committed to changing US horseracing for the better and are delighted to find a partner in Hollywood Park Racing Association willing to take the bold step of trying to change every facet of the racing experience to appeal to a broader, younger audience,” said Stephen Burn, CEO of Betfair US and TVG. “Horse racing is a wonderful sport, but it must embrace cultural change and utilise advancements in technology and presentation to survive and thrive just as other sports and entertainment industries have done.”

Currently, the California Horse Racing Board is considering regulations that would make possible the implementation of exchange wagering on horse racing by California residents for the first time anywhere in the United States. “We realise that US racing, and California racing in particular, simply cannot continue on as it has,” added Jack Liebau, president of Hollywood Park Racing Association. “We need to look at the way we do everything in presenting our product to the public and not be afraid to embrace change, particularly if we are going to generate a younger fan base.”

Liebau added: “We believe that partnering with Betfair to modernise the product will benefit California racing. Exchange wagering is another possibly transformative technological change for horseracing. However, it will only be introduced after a thorough consultation with our horsemen and horsewomen and, of course, its implementation is ultimately subject to the approval of the Thoroughbred Owners of California.”

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Sainsburys join the new Spurs stadium team

 

Supermarket Giants Sainsburys have teamed up with Tottenham Hotspur to open a store at

the club’s new stadium development.

The 72,000 sq ft store, which will create 250 jobs, will be part of the Northumberland

Development Project, which includes a new football stadium, public space, homes and

offices. Work will begin in the coming months, with the opening planned for late 2013.

Sainsbury’s is also opening a convenience store on Tottenham High Road next month on a

site destroyed during the riots, creating around 25 new jobs.

“Our investment represents a real boost for Tottenham, bringing both new jobs and an

exciting place to shop,” said Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King.

“The opening of our local store on Tottenham High Road also reinforces our commitment to

a vibrant future for Tottenham’s high street. Sainsbury’s has been trading in Tottenham for

over a quarter of a century and we’re proud to invest in the area at this important time.”

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy added: “We are delighted that Sainsbury’s will become the

supermarket provider in the Northumberland Development Project. This will be one of the

largest supermarkets of its kind in London and will help bring a greater vibrancy and attract

new trade to the area.”

 

 

New hotel and conference venue for Worcestershire cricket HQ

 

Worcestershire County Cricket Club and Premier Inn have been granted planning

permission to develop a new 120-bedroom hotel and restaurant and new facilities for

Worcestershire County Cricket Club at the New Road ground.

The new hotel and restaurant is part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the ground which

will also include the construction of new conference and executive facilities. The new hotel

and restaurant will create more than 45 full time jobs in the town as well as additional jobs at

the Cricket Club.

John Bates, Head of Acquisitions for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants (owners of Premier

Inns), said: “The New Road ground is an ideal location, right in the centre of Worcester and

a perfect spot for leisure and business visitors to the city. We will now press on to start

building the hotel in the autumn, so we can add another quality location for our customers

and invest to create jobs in Worcester.”

Whitbread is investing £7.5 million in the hotel and restaurant and Worcestershire County

Cricket Club is also investing over £2.5 million in the new facilities.

David Leatherdale, Chief Executive of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, added: “In this

economic climate, businesses of all types need to use their resources effectively to survive.

We are doing just that at our New Road ground, investing in our facilities to help secure the

future of the club and drive success on the pitch. The new development will add further

facilities, to complement the Graeme Hick Pavilion completed some 2 ½ years ago making

us a 365/day destination, and helping to attract investment into the Worcester. I am

delighted that local councillors support our vision, and we will now be working hard to deliver

a scheme which will benefit the City and County as a whole.”

ICC look to increase T20 teams at World Cups & also for inclusion in future Common Wealth & Olympic Games

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced plans to further promote the Twenty20 format of the sport as it seeks to explore cricket’s place in major multi-sport events.

 

The ICC’s Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) staged a two-day meeting which concluded in Dubai on Wednesday, with Twenty20 at the forefront of discussions. The CEC has agreed to recommend to the ICC Board that three additional Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) should be allowed in the year in which the World Twenty20 is being played. The current regulations permit a maximum of 12 T20Is for each full member in any one year with the increase being seen as a method to enhance teams’ preparations for the event.

The CEC has also proposed that the next World Twenty20 tournament in 2014 in Bangladesh should be increased from 12 to 16 men’s teams. It has also encouraged associate and affiliate members to submit detailed proposals to host future World Twenty20 events in a developing country or region. ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: “It was an important discussion and the CEC agreed that further conversations to strategically manage T20 cricket and also to promote all three formats would be beneficial.”

Twenty20 would be the most logical form of the sport for inclusion in multi-sport events such as the Olympic Games, and the ICC has said it will study the potential for cricket at such events. An ICC statement added: “The CEC decided to further explore an invitation for cricket to take part in the Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast in Australia in April 2018. The CEC also supported the key initiative in the ICC strategy to independently evaluate the pros and cons of participating in the Olympic Games.”

Lorgat added: “A preliminary high-level evaluation is expected to be presented at the next CEC meeting.”

HMRC close in on Image Rights loop holes

English Premier League club Newcastle United have settled its tax dispute with HM Revenue & Customs over the payment of image rights to players.

Owner Mike Ashley, Sports Direct founder, will disclose the agreement this week when it announces upbeat full-year results.

Newcastle Utd is not expected to reveal how much it paid to settle the dispute, however it is understood to be less than the contingent liability the club put aside in previous years’ accounts.

The settlement covers all outstanding disputes with HMRC, an insider said. The bulk of the matter is understood to relate to the payment of image rights to its footballers. By labelling payments image rights rather than salaries they can be paid to companies, often offshore, and attract corporation tax at 26% rather than higher rate income tax at 50%.

Although only Chelsea and Newcastle have released information on settlements with HMRC, most Premiership clubs are understood to have come to agreements covering past liabilities and future treatment of payments.

An HMRC spokesman said: “The majority of premier league football clubs have now confirmed that they will pay tax arising from image rights payments, and we continue to negotiate with those that are yet to settle.”

 

More to be done on the “matchday experience” for the fan by European Clubs

European sports fans believe the match day experience is the lowest priority for club owners, with the majority claiming that ‘foreign owners do not have the best interests of their club at heart’, according to the findings of a new survey by Havas Sports & Entertainment, organiser of the fourth annual Global Sports Forum Barcelona (GSFB).

In the survey sports fans ranked the ‘match-day experience’ bottom in a list of club owners’ priorities behind ‘selling merchandise’, ‘maximising ticket sales’, ‘signing sponsors’ and ‘winning matches’. In addition 63.3% of respondents stated that they ‘don’t want foreign owners in their domestic league’, with 52.1% claiming that ‘foreign owners do not have the best interests of their club at heart’ and more than half (50.8%) worried that clubs would be left ‘in turmoil’ when a foreign owner leaves.

The research was carried out amongst sports fans across the European markets of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK as part of the GSFB’s focus on the globalisation of sport. The findings, along with other topics affecting the sports industry, will be discussed by the Forum’s 1,000-plus delegates, including leading rights holders, brand representatives, athletes and personalities from the world of sport. The event takes place at the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya in Barcelona from March 7-9.

“Technology and globalisation have helped more sports clubs reach a wider fan base, but all club owners must not forget their regular and dedicated fan base, who deserve the best possible match day experience,” said Lucien Boyer, global president and CEO of Havas Sports & Entertainment and general commissioner of the Global Sports Forum Barcelona. “A club’s most committed and passionate supporters are an integral part of its identity and can be one of the main reasons why a club can gain global appeal. Owners, whilst focussing on the team’s development on the pitch and commercial potential off it, must remember to keep its loyal fan base happy and work with them to grow the club