The Business Of Sport - October

Written by Harrie Smith

FC Barcelona wear the Drake logo on jerseys for El Clasico

To celebrate becoming the first artist to reach 50 billion streams on Spotify, the first El Clasico of the 2022/23 season saw Barcelona players wearing Drake’s OVO logo.

Spotify signed a five-year, £236million sponsorship deal with Barcelona in March 2022, which saw the company become the team’s official front-of-shirt sponsor. The deal also gave the streaming service the naming rights to their stadium, now officially the Spotify Nou Camp.

Barcelona VP of marketing, Juli Guiu claimed ‘The initiative shows up potential to become a unique platform to offer experiences…reaching out to new audiences across the world’.

However, responses from the industry more generally have been largely negative, with clubs, fans and broadcasters accusing Barcelona of selling out.

Further movements at the highest level of football ownership

The private equity influx, particularly from the US market, continues to bolster the global football market.

777 Partners continued their football expansion with the acquisition of Melbourne Victory in early October.

Though no specific financial details of the minority ownership transaction were disclosed, the Daily Telegraph reported the deal valued Melbourne at $32m. The partnership will allow the team to ‘recruit talent, grow the commercial operations and create synergies with the broader 777 network’.

In European football, Inter Milan have appointed the Raine Group and Goldman Sachs to find new club owners for the club from current owners – the Zhang Family.

The club was acquired in 2016 for a reported €270m, with traction taking a while to develop, but delivering a 19th Scudetto in 2020/21.

The family reportedly value the club at €1bn+. Three bids have reportadley been lodged – from Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, a UAE based fund, and Swiss Billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli.

The Pozzo family are also in talks with a US special purpose acquisition company to sell stakes in Udinese and Watford.

The Italian club are valued at around £175m and Watford £140m, but it is currently unclear the equity stake demanded.

McLaren Racing introduce variable digital branding to F1 cars

In a landmark move, McLaren Racing has partnered with digital agency Seamless Digital to allow branding on the F1 cars to change throughout the race weekend.

Digital screens, which will be clearly visible to onboard cameras, will fit alongside the driver in the cockpit, under the control of the McLaren team.

The technology was recently debuted at the US GP, and will continue in the Friday practice sessions throughout the rest of the season.

NBA launches first chain of retail stores in Africa

Partnering with sportswear retailer Shesha, the National Basketball Association has further expanded it’s international reach by launching the first in-person store in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The store will feature an extensive range of NBA merchandise and memorabilia, including current and former player jerseys. In addition to merchandise, the store will feature large screens to stream games, interactive photo displays and player zones.

Later this year, NBA Africa and Shesha will launch the league’s first e-commerce site on the continent, offering African fans the full range of authentic NBA merchandise.

Champions League rights on the market in Germany

The Champions League rights are currently on the market in Germany, with broadcasters to submit their first-round offers for the 2024 – 27 UEFA CL rights by 14th November, with Team Marketing running the sales process.

With Amazon currently paying €90m a year for the rights, the new rights cycle is likely to go for a significant premium.