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Jackie Adedokun @adejax7

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What: La Liga’s deal to play regular-season games in the US and Canada is a huge risk for the league.
Why it matters: La Liga’s gamble to export to domestic league matches won’t do much to grow soccer in America.

Growing Soccer in America

In August, Relevent Sports and La Liga announced their plans to have regular season La Liga games played overseas in the United States and Canada. The move has been made in an attempt to raise the awareness of La Liga soccer and grow the sport in America. However, is this enough reason to bring Spanish domestic league soccer games across the Atlantic? Soccer is already one of the fastest growing sports in America. The number of boys and girls participating in high school has been on a steady rise since 2009 (https://bit.ly/2PCVDcj). The average attendance for MLS games currently stands at around 22,000, which is more than the NBA and NHL average attendances (https://bit.ly/2NgJgVL). The US, Canada and Mexico have just won a joint bid to host World Cup 2026 (@united2026) and Relevent’s ICC preseason tournament continues to set record numbers despite clubs rarely fielding star players on the tour. So does La Liga really need to have its games take place in North America to grow the sport?

Breaking Down La Liga’s Attempt to Reach North America

Speaking to the COO of Collegiate Sports Management Group and an adjunct professor with Columbia University’s Sports Management Program, Ray Katz (@realraykatz) believes that this is the kind of deal that could hurt the league. In his opinion, player relations could suffer greatly from staging games across North American. Additionally, he points out that there are better ways for Spain’s top-tier soccer league to reach new audiences. “If La Liga want to get their product out there, then the key is availability globally from a media perspective. Make the league available to people on any screen, and ideally free or as part of existing a solid OTT or cable subscriptions.”

At the moment, La Liga games are shown on Bein Sports Network, a network that has recently been dropped by one of America’s top cable providers, Comcast. To Katz’s point on availability, a lesson is there to be learned from NBC Sports. In 2013, NBC Sports captured the rights to show the English Premier League (EPL), perhaps Europe’s most popular soccer league. The network made all games available, free of charge, provided viewers had a cable subscription. It wasn’t until last year the network put up a paywall for games not televised on cable. But by then, NBC Sports’ brilliant coverage had made hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans into fans of one team or another in the EPL. More importantly, it made fans out of people willing to pay to see their team play if they weren’t being televised on one of the network’s major channels.

Make the league available to people on any screen…

If NBC Sports had made a pay streaming service for games at the outset of their deal with the EPL, there is serious doubt as to whether the EPL would be as prominent as it is in the US. In contrasts to La Liga, it’s current spot on a TV network, not readily available to most is extremely damaging to the product in America. On this issue, Katz said, “…La Liga needs to centralize their TV strategy and negotiations instead of having individual teams make these deals. The NFL did this in the 1960’s and it yielded epic results.”

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It’s clear from this deal, La Liga wants to do what the National Football League (NFL) has done with their sport. The NFL has exported regular season games to Europe and Mexico for some time now and it has been met with huge success. However, Katz points out La Liga won’t experience that same success with this new venture. “There isn’t any other high-level American football played outside of the U.S so NFL games abroad, serve essentially as an “ambassador” for the sport itself. For La Liga, every country has their own reasonably strong soccer league so La Liga soccer won’t necessarily attract that many new fans unless there are games with Barcelona or Real Madrid.”

Barcelona FC and Real Madrid CF have a massive global following already and don’t need to hold games across the Atlantic to increase their presence. Ticket pricing has already been earmarked as a possible problem. Last year’s ICC tournament featured the first “El Clasico” to be played outside of Spain, when Barça and Real met in Miami. Tickets to that match started at a whopping $300. This figure would get you into all home games alone at most Spanish clubs. But this is what ticket prices will look like if Americans want to watch regular season La Liga games in their own backyard. On the issue of ticket pricing Katz explained “…the only people who will pay the exorbitant ticket prices, are people who are fans of La Liga already.

You have to find a well thought out, balance between generating revenue and selling tickets. It can’t be one or the other.

A Mountain To Climb

The deal lacks support from the La Liga Players Association (LLPA), who are willing to strike in an effort to keep La Liga games in Spain. Many are not surprised by this stance, given the number of matches and cup competitions soccer players are involved in. One game could make all the difference in a season. La Liga will also have steep competition with established American sports, given the NFL, NHL, and NBA could all be in full force when it seeks to stage its games.

LLPA President, David Aganzo, speaks to the press after La Liga’s Captain emergency meeting.

Additionally, the deal has to be approved by FIFA, UEFA, CONCACF, The United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the Spanish FA, Spain’s National Sports Council and its foreign ministry. FIFA will have the final say on the matter, but precedent doesn’t favor the deal either. The governing body’s former president Sepp Blatter condemned the EPL’s previous proposals to play matches overseas as “unacceptable” and an “abuse of football.” Despite all of this, La Liga recently announced that Barcelona against Girona will be the first game to be played overseas, with the Miami Dolphins Hard Rock Stadium the destination.

 

What: Barcelona open up their 45th academy in Puebla, Mexico.
Why it matters: Barcelona expand their football influence in the Americas and continue their global initiative to grow their brand of football.

Barcelona Goes in For Mexico

It has certainly been a busy few weeks for  Barcelona FC (@FCBarcelona). Earlier this week La Liga announced that the elite club would play Girona in Miami in January, making the first time two European clubs would play a regular season match in the United States , which followed last week’s announcement of  the opening of their new academy in Puebla, Mexico. The newest Barcelona academy is the 45th football school for the La Liga leaders and the 23rd academy on an American continent. Between North and South America, Barcelona has eight academies in the United States, six in Canada, three in Colombia, two in Brazil and one each in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The Puebla Academy’s inauguration was oversaw by the director of Barça’s Academy Project, Carles Martin.

The Barça Academy has been the club’s model for youth soccer development with the main goal not to find the next “Messi” or “Iniesta” but rather, “to grow the Barça brand and transmit the work ethic and values of the Club around the world.”

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More Than A Club

The academies under Barcelona have recently undergone a makeover. Earlier this year, the academies changed their names from “FCBEscola to “Barça Academy” (https://bit.ly/2LQBhdp).

Barcelona FC President, Josep Maria Bartomeu

Escola is Catalan for school, a nod to the Club’s roots and region, but the rebranding was done in an attempt to boost the club’s presence and improve marketability in North America. The newest academy keeps the Club on par with Barcelona FC’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s vision to make Barcelona the most prominent sports entity in the world by 2021.

Speaking to NBC Latino last year on Barcelona’s global strategy to expand its own brand and grow the sport in the Americas, the former Business Development Director for Barcelona’s New York office, Arturo de la Fuente said “We are proud to say that we are a Catalan club, but més que un club is the mentality of the club; we develop human beings, we are socially responsible.”

The famous club motto has always symbolized regional Catalan pride. But Bartomeu’s global strategy has demonstrated that the club’s philosophy is not geographically bound to any country, nation, or city.

Barcelona players and Latino superstars, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez

The Barça Academy has been the club’s model for youth soccer development with the main goal not to find the next “Messi” or “Iniesta” but rather, “to grow the Barça brand and transmit the work ethic and values of the Club around the world.” Such work ethic and values include the idea of playing beautiful football for one’s community and not only for money or glory. It is this trademark of Barcelona that resonates with US parents who want their children to take a holistic approach to the game. Hispanic communities are and have always been an integral part of the club’s overall strategy given the cultural ties and the amount of Latino players that have played and currently play for Barcelona. Players such as Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, and Brazil’s Coutinho. This new academy in Puebla, Mexico reaffirms how important these communities are as Barcelona FC continue to push its global initiative. Perhaps even more importantly, both moves show Barça’s two pronged approach to North American growth, expose the club directly into the marketplace with a historic match, while building a future generation with elite grassroots efforts.

Now that’s smart soccer business.

What: The Las Vegas Knights utilize the Hispanic community by broadcasting games in Spanish
Why it matters: With a third of Las Vegas’ population being Hispanic, the recent NHL finalists have found ways to connect to the regions’ Latino community.

Las Vegas Knights See Potential for New Set of Fans

Kerry Bubolz

The inclusion of Hispanic marketing within typical American sports has been on the rise in recent years. For years NBA and MLS have had tremendous success in reaching this audience. MLB has played games in Puerto Rico and Mexico. After a 19-season absence, the Padres and Dodgers played a series in Monterrey, Mexico last month. The NFL has recently been making moves, playing some regular-season games in Mexico City as well. But attempts by the NHL are almost non-existent. Some teams have the Hispanic heritage night to honor the community, but this is as far as efforts have gone. However, the newest team to the NHL and recent Stanley Cup finalists, Las Vegas Golden Knights, are making strides to change this to connect with the regions’ Latino-American community.

The Las Vegas metropolitan area is a diverse mix of 2.2 million people and Hispanics are 30% (3rd of the market) of the population and the fastest growing group economically. This was recognized by the Chief Operating Officer and President of the Knights, Kerry Bubolz, and he believed there was a huge opportunity to explore a whole new fan base. His take on raising hockey’s profile:

Maybe there wasn’t much exposure to our game, but the way you create exposure is you have to provide the product. So, we ultimately put it on ESPN Deportes.

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Golden Knights Spanish Commentator, Jesus Lopez (left).

In their inaugural season with the NHL, the Knights decided to broadcast some of their games in Spanish. The plan was to have games broadcast in Spanish once a week to gauge the level of interest within the community and then to see where to take it from there. The Knights are one of three NHL franchises that broadcast in Spanish. The Chicago Blackhawks and the Florida Panthers are the other two and did not broadcast in Spanish this past season. The man behind the mic calling the games on ESPN Deportes 1460 is Jesus Lopez. He broadcasted about 20 home games in the regular season. It was an absolute success and the Knights also had him call home games for their Stanley Cup push. In addition to this, he added a 15-minute segment on his show called, “Caballeros de la Mesa Redonda,” or “Knights of the Roundtable.”

The Knights and Bubolz have plans to expand their Spanish radio broadcast after it was received well within the Hispanic community and gardened much attraction to the sport. With the money from the NHL/NHL Players Association Industry Growth Fund, the team wants to start a street-hockey program in the Clark County School District, where 60% of that area is Hispanic.

What: Sergio “Checo” Perez finished third in Azerbaijan Grand Prix to claim his first podium finish of the Formula 1 season.
Why it matters: This latest finish sees Perez become the most successful Mexican F1 driver with eight podium finishes to his name.

New Heights for Perez

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the fourth race of this year’s Formula 1 (F1) racing calendar and the usual names of who would get a podium finish included the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg and Max Verstappen to name a few. However, there was not much talk of F1’s Sergio Perez. Perez, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico became the fifth Mexican to make it into Formula 1 racing when he debuted in the sport back in 2011. Now into his seventh season of racing, it was Perez who was able to take third in a frenetic Azerbaijan GP, that included three crashes, a rare tire blow out of Valtteri Bottas’ car and an unlikely Hamilton win after long time leader in the race, Vettel, surrendered the lead when he locked his front tires. The third-place finish for Perez was his first for the year. The finish also makes him the most accomplished Mexican driver with eight podium finishes to date.

Perez has not had the strongest start to the season finishing outside the top ten for the first three races, but he came alive in Baku to secure his first podium since the 2016 season. Racing for Force India, a representative of the team came out to say that “he is possibly the most underrated F1 driver out there.” Since joining the team in 2014, all four of Force India’s podium finishes have been provided by Perez.

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Perez Pushes F1 Popularity in Mexico

Perez’s success on the track will not only raise the profile of Force India, but also continue to elevate the sport in his home country, Mexico. The Mexican Grand Prix made its return to the F1 calendar back in 2015 after a 23-year hiatus. That year it was the most watched race of the year in that region. In 2016, it was reported by Forbes that Mexican viewership of Formula One was up by 500%. Additionally, last year’s event drew over 339,967 fans over a 3-day period according to F1. Perez maintains a strong social media presence, active on Twitter (@SChecoPerez), Instagram (@SChecoPerez) and Facebook (Sergioperezf1).

 

His website (https://sergioperez.mx/) also lists his sponsorships, which are mainly Mexican based companies such as PEMEX, and TelMex. Perez holds the torch for Mexican driving in F1 and has not wavered in holding the flag up high. When former sponsors Hawkers made a crude comment about Mexicans regarding the wall President Trump wants to build near the Mexican border, Perez severed connections with the company immediately. Perez will be headed to Barcelona next to compete in the Spanish Grand Prix this Sunday. He’ll be hoping to improve on last year’s fourth place finish.

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What: Major League Baseball released demographics of this year’s Opening Day.
Why it matters: This year’s numbers have set a record for players from outside the United States, including a strong contingent from Latin American countries.

Latin American Representation Strong in Major League Baseball

Opening Day for the 2018 Major League Baseball (@MLB) season has come and gone and this year’s opening day has continued a trend in baseball that we have seen before in the past. It also set a record. A total of 254 players in the league come from 21 different countries and territories outside the United States. The majority of these countries are Latin American. This number is taken from the 25-man rosters and inactive lists of the current 30 MLB teams.

The Dominican Republic has always had a strong presence in the league and this year is no different. The country boasts 84 players currently in the league, led by future Hall of Famers Adrián Beltré, Robinson Canó and Albert Pujols. Venezuela comes in second with 74 players, including reigning A.L. MVP José Altuve, and Puerto Rico and Cuba have often traded for the third place, but the former comes in third with 19; Cuba with 17. Other Latin American countries with MLB player representatives include: Mexico with 11, Colombia with five, and Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama with three.

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Yasiel Puig, Cuban right-fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Latino Influence on Major League Baseball

Soccer reigns supreme in popularity in most Latin American countries but baseball is often seen as the second favorite sport in this region. However, in places like Cuba or the Dominican Republic, it is actually the most popular. Often called “America’s favorite pastime,” the demographics of the game are changing as the Latin American community continues to add diversity to the game on and off the field. Latinos account for 31% of professional players and Major League Baseball has recognized this. The league, as well as individual teams, have had campaigns to market towards a growing Latino fan base.

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th – October 15th) has been utilized brilliantly in recent years by the league. Many teams set aside a game during that time which pays homage to Latino culture and influence on the game of baseball. The success of the #PonleAcento (Put An Accent On It) campaign from 2016 has  left an everlasting mark on the league. The campaign urged Hispanic players to embrace their heritage by adding the accent to the names on their jerseys. It sparked fans sense of pride and became a cultural movement. Latino celebrities like Roselyn Sánchez and other Latino athletes (including some outside of baseball) like Canelo Álvarez wore jerseys with their name and the accent mark on it. Latin American representation in baseball has been and continues to grow and this year’s opening day demonstrates that.

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What: WWE and Spanish Sports Channel GOL enter into TV rights deal to broadcast WWE highlights in Spanish.
Why it matters: With this deal WWE continues to grow its influence and presence in Spain.

WWE and GOL Announce a New TV Deal

Spanish media group Medipro has announced that its free to air (FTA) sports channel GOL, has signed a rights partnership with the US wrestling organization, Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The length of the deal has not been disclosed, but GOL has started this week to offer WWE highlights of fighting shows Raw and SmackDown through three shows: Afterburn, Bottom Line, and Experience. Spain is the latest country to broadcast the shows as they are syndicated in other international markets as well. All of the shows will have Spanish commentary. GOL’s director, Francesc Carbonell, expressed his approval of the deal pointing out that spectators will now have the opportunity to enjoy WWE’s highlight programming. The shows will also be available on GOL’s TV Everywhere platform for those with a subscription and on its seven-day VOD.

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WWE’s Expanding Presence

Randy Orton at a WWE Live Event in Valencia, Spain.

The news of GOL picking up WWE highlight shows also comes after another FTA channel, Neox, owned by Spain’s Atresmedia, expanded its current agreement with the WWE to air Raw and SmackDown on the weekends. The audience figures in Spain for Raw and SmackDown have almost doubled since the shows started airing on Neox back in January 2014. This is the main reason for extension on that contract. Speaking on WWE’s most recent deal with GOL, WWE Co-President Michelle Wilson shared the same sentiments as Carbonell:

This partnership to televise WWE’s highlight shows in Spain allows us to expand our reach and deliver additional WWE programming to our fans throughout the country.

WWE has been trying to build its reputation and influence beyond the United States for a while now and these recent TV deals show potential. The organization has also branched out from just TV and had a European tour last year which included the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona. The same European tour is in the works for this year, with visits to two more Spanish cities, Malaga and Zaragoza, on the books.

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What: Argentina Grand Prix may be returning to the Formula One Circuit next year for the first time since 1998.
Why it matters: Possible return of the Argentina Grand Prix would raise the popularity of the sport in South America in accordance with F1’s new initiative to expand the sport’s reach.

Early Plans

Arturo Rubinstein, president of Fenix Entertainment, announced that he has been in talks with Liberty Media, the owners of Formula One (F1) Racing, about bringing a grand prix race back to the country. Rubinstein told UK Newspaper The Independent that he had been holding talks with Liberty Media about this new venture. If it were to come to fruition, the Argentine Grand Prix would be held in the southern part of Buenos Aires at the Autódromo Juan y Oscar Gálvez. The Autódromo is a racing track that hosted the last F1 race in Argentina back in 1998.

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Market for Argentina in Formula One?

Ever since Liberty Media, a US-owned mass-media giant, took control of F1 Racing last year in February, they have made no secret of their desire to have a second Grand Prix race in a “destination city” or in another city in the Eastern time zone. The reason behind such a move is to promote the sport outside of Europe. F1 recently conducted an in-depth survey, where more than 215,000 fans from 194 participating countries answered questions about various aspects of the sport. The survey revealed that there has been a sharp increase in fan participation in the sport among North, Central and South America. At the moment, there is only one Grand Prix race in South America: the Brazilian Grand Prix. Argentina would be the second and should it happen, it would not be seen as too much of a risk by Liberty Media for a number of reasons.

For one, Argentina has a history with F1 racing, having been one of the first races to kick off the F1 racing calendar. It also has a rich history of acclaimed Argentinian drivers, like Juan Manuel Fangio. It already has a motor racing circuit, the Autódromo, which still hosts races just currently not F1 races. And perhaps more importantly, Rubinstein says that he has the backing of the Argentinian government. The government is committed to funding £21.5m (US $30m) of upgrades required by F1’s governing body the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

Bernie Eccelston (former F1 Chief Executive) and Lewis Hamilton (current World F1 champion)

As the work will only take around six months to complete, the hopes are for Argentina to join the racing calendar at the start of next year. Former F1 chief executive, Bernie Eccleston, told Reuters that the race is a possibility, not a given. He also added, “We already have the backing of the Argentine Automotive Club (ACA) as well as of some of the leading companies who have already anticipated their willingness to sponsor the event.” The return of the Argentine Grand Prix would not only generate the massive amount of business that F1 races bring, but possibly raise the level of interest in the sport.

 

 

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What: Alexis Sanchez leaves Arsenal for Manchester United instead of Manchester City.
Why it matters: For better or worse, Sanchez’s contract with Manchester United places him near the top of football world’s highest earners.

Sanchez Chooses United

 

After months of speculation that go back to the start of the summer transfer window Chile international, Alexis Sanchez, has finally left Arsenal Football Club. But not for Manchester City, the club who once valued him at £60 million during summer negotiations.  Instead Sanchez signed a mega deal with City’s rivals Manchester United. Sanchez to City was all anyone could talk about in summer. It wasn’t a question of ‘was it going to happen?’ Rather it was one of ‘when was it going to happen?’ And when it didn’t happen in the summer, it was assumed City would just go back in for their man in the winter. They did, this time valuing the Chilean at £20 million due to the time left on his current contract and unwillingness to be an Arsenal player. United also valued Sanchez at £20 million. So why the Red Devils over the Citizens? Simply put, United’s £20 million meant a whole lot more than City’s.

 

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What One Sanchez Costs

 

The details of Sanchez’s contract are staggering to say the least: The Chilean forward will earn a £350,000-a-week wage plus an extra £100,000 a week for image rights over the course of a four-and-a-half-year contract.  He will also receive £7.5 million a year for four years as a signing-on fee. In addition to paying £20 million for Sanchez, United also gave the unwanted Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Arsenal. Lastly, United paid £15 million to Sanchez’s agent Fernando Felicevich.

 

Sanchez’s contract makes him the highest paid player in the English Premier League. His wages soar high above United legend Wayne Rooney, who was on £300,000 pounds before he returned back to boyhood club Everton this past summer. Unprecedented in the Premier League, Sanchez’s wages are similar to the salaries of players in Spain’s La Liga, or the Chinese Super League. The next highest paid player in the EPL is United’s Paul Pogba who is on £290,000 a week. Sanchez will be making more than five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

The Possible Impact of This Move

 

While the contract is fantastic for Sanchez, especially at his age, it could be a little unsettling for his new teammates and other players in the league. Sanchez had his best season in the league last year scoring 24 goals for Arsenal. Yet we are halfway through this season, and he has only netted seven times. His wages are bound to have a ripple effect on players who feel they are performing as well or better than Sanchez. City’s manager, Pep Guardiola stated City pulled out of the deal in order to preserve the “stability of the club.”

 

Sanchez has firmly held that his decision to go to United was not one motivated by money, but an attempt to make a dream come true. There is no question that he will have that opportunity. However, can he do it under the massive amount of pressure his new contract has put on him?

 

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What: January transfer window is currently underway.
Why it matters: This window is utilized by all leagues, but the English Premier League continues to outspend other leagues despite irregular results.

The clock striking 12:00 AM on January 1st means the start of a new year. It is also the start of what many like to call “silly season” in the football world. The start of the January transfer window, a staple that has officially been around since 2003, leaves much to be desired. In these 31 days, clubs will either be looking to make moves or hold on to players in that same amount of time. But just how effective are these signings and who utilizes this period the most?

EPL, Miles Ahead of the Rest

In comparison to others during this time of the year, the English Premier League outspends other leagues. A major reason for this is the television deal that the 20 premier league teams signed with broadcasters back in 2016. The deal was worth £10.4B and stands as the most lucrative TV deal ever signed in pro football. The higher the finish for a club in the English top flight, the larger the prize money at the end of the season. The first January transfer window in 2003 saw the league spend about £45.7M. Last year the league spent £218.5M.

We are halfway through January and unsurprisingly it is an English club making the most noise this window. Liverpool signed Virgil Van Dijk, formally of Southampton, for a record setting £75M. The fee made him the most expensive central defender in world football. Shortly after this, Liverpool sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £120M making him the second most expensive transfer after compatriot Neymar. Alexis Sanchez’s transfer from Arsenal to one of the Manchester clubs is the next hotly anticipated lucrative deal to happen in the coming days.

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Does Position Determine Utilization?

Despite the spending that has taken place in this transfer window by the usual top six clubs in the EPL (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool) a look back at history suggests that these clubs rarely spend during this time. Especially those in the number one spot after the Christmas period. The BBC reported that at the end of 2017 January transfer window the top six collectively only spent £40,000. Match of the Day pundit, Danny Murphy, wasn’t surprised by this saying:

Well-run clubs are not going to sign players for the sake of it. They will only do it if they can improve the team.

In contrast to the bottom half of the table, those closer to relegation are in a mad dash to make signings that will turn their season around and save them from the drop into England’s second tier of football, the Championship. Spending no money for clubs in these positions usually suggests relegation as was the case with Aston Villa during the 2015-2016 season and QPR the year before that. Yet signing a great amount of players can also lead to relegation. This was evidenced when last year Hull City brought on a record setting 10 players and were still relegated.

Effectiveness

Its hard to tell if this period is actually effective in carrying out what clubs hope to accomplish at the end of each season. The results are so sporadic. Unless a player like Coutinho is available, top seeded clubs rarely utilize this window for buying players. And clubs in the bottom half, would be wise to strategically use this time to turn things around, otherwise it could prove costly. Former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson said it best: “The January transfer window is a difficult window to operate in.” He would know having helped Leicester escape relegation the 2014-2015 season.

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What: David Beckham’s ownership group has welcomed three new investors into his mission to have an MLS team in Miami.
Why it matters: The recent change up of Beckham’s investors might be what he needs to finally get his Miami team to be a reality.

Another Shakeup

When David Beckham signed on to play for Major League Soccer Club, Los Angeles Galaxy, back in 2007 he had one eye set on the future. In his contract was a clause that allowed him to purchase a MLS expansion club for just US$25 million dollars when he left the league. A great move it turned out to be because the current going rate for a MLS expansion club goes from US$150-200 millions dollars. Beckham retired from playing in 2013 and a year later he exercised his rights to buy a club at this cut-rate price.

Setting his sites on Miami, the goal to have a club there has not been an easy one. Beckham only recently got the land deal for a 25,000 seat stadium this past June. However, he lacks a solid ownership group, firm stadium deal, and he is currently dealing with an ongoing legal dispute with a local landowner over his newly granted land deal. Three years after the initial announcement of Miami FC, Beckham and his ownership group are still waiting on approval for the club.

This week another change within Beckham’s ownership group has occurred: Todd Boehly, chairman and CEO of Eldridge Industries as well as part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has left the group. It was only this past April that Boehly had come on as a major investor. Boehly was supposed to be the majority owner and controlling partner of the franchise going forward. Instead, he has been replaced by three men known to the Miami community: Jorge and Jose Mas and Masayoshi Son.

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Our group will build a world-class franchise that reflects the people, values and history of the Miami community

Familiar Connections

One of the issues cited for Boehly departure was the fact that he would be the majority owner and controlling partner of the franchise. It was preferred that investment shares be more evenly divided and now they will be with three more investors in the mix.

Additionally, MLS owners wanted more local investors and connections to the proposed club and that is exactly what Beckham has given them. The Mas Brothers are two prominent business executives in Miami and the family behind a leading engineering construction company in the region known as MasTec. Japanese Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son is also on board.

A meeting of the MLS Board of Governors was held Thursday and all three investors were approved to join Beckham’s ownership group. The Beckham Group released a statement concerning the implementation and recent approval of their new investors. It stated that the newly assembled owners “brings local expertise, global perspective, an unquestionable track record of business success and one of the foremost icons in global soccer.” With a final decision on Beckham’s MLS expansion club to be forthcoming, these recent changes might just prove to be vital in securing Miami FC.

 

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What: With the tender for the 2019-2022 Premier League rights to go out this month, Netflix was thought to be amongst one of the challengers to traditional broadcasters. Instead it has opted out the bidding.
Why it matters: Not only is this one less challenger for traditional broadcasters to worry about, but it is also one less challenger for Amazon and Facebook to worry about.

A New Frontier?

This season of the National Football League has not only seen Thursday night football games broadcast on the NFL Network, but also on Amazon. The games, available to Prime membership customers, offer a glimpse into the next steps major streaming companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook, are attempting to take as they look to expand their empires. Now they are looking to make a move on English football. Several months ago it was reported that among others, the aforementioned three would be in the bidding process for the 2019-2022 Premier League rights when they came out. However, with the rights set to be released sometime this month, Netflix has decided not to pursue the chance to broadcast English’s topflight football. Why? Simply put: it’s not Netflix’s style.

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If Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Netflix, one the most notable streaming services, has decided to stick to what it does best and this does not include live sports. It will instead focus its sports operation on original programming rather then live events. Early this past October, the streaming giant secured a deal with Serie A giants and reigning champions Juventus to produce a documentary on the club. The collaboration between Netflix and Juventus will provide viewers around the world with a behind the scenes look of the club during training sessions, preseasons, games and personal stories of the players. Commenting on the partnership with Juventus Erik Barmack, vice president of international original series at Netflix, stated: “Netflix is the home of passionate storytelling, and there are no more passionate fans than those of the Bianconeri.”

“We are excited to have unique, exclusive access to one of the most important squads in the world”

A Sure Thing

Netflix’s deal with Juventus and subsequent withdrawal from the Premier League bidding rights shouldn’t be looked as weakness on Netflix part. Rather, Netflix could be praised for taking on an old directive and shedding new light upon it. Sport documentaries like the one Juventus will have with Netlifx are wildly popular as evidenced by the NFL’s successful look into life in the NFL with Hard Knocks. Additionally, Fox Sports produced a similar documentary mini-series back in 2012 with English football club, Liverpool FC. The series title ‘Being: Liverpool’ was generally received well by fans and critics alike. Netflix is looking to recreate that same exposure with Juventus using the same directives that has grown its business in the first place: storytelling. Netflix is the number one streaming service because of its original programming and adding live sports broadcasting, it feels, seems unnecessary and a deviation to its style of television.

“We want to provide the best video storytelling across all genres, but it won’t encompass live sports broadcasting”

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