Tennis: Advantage technology Plugged In: Nehme Abouzeid Labor & Agents: Playing Ball LPGA pitches event with retired NFL players Fancam adds MLB team deals to roster Baseball: Pace of play People: Executive transactions Nike signs key players ahead of draft USA Swimming signs Nexcare Tribeca/ESPN link gives sports docs a home
SBJ/June 18 - 24, 2001/InternationalPrint All
Coca-Cola has amply made up for not bidding for the title sponsorship of the English Premier League by signing the biggest sports broadcasting sponsorship deal ever for the league on ITV. Coke will sponsor the network's highlights (it does not have live rights) and other programming over the next three years to the tune of an anticipated total of $70 million, including spot advertising. The Premier League's new title sponsor is Barclaycard under a three-year deal that totals $67 million. The credit card company had first option on the sponsorship of ITV's broadcasts but decided to pass.
CANADA IN THE RUNNING: Canada plans a bid to host the next soccer World Cup available to the Western Hemisphere, which would be 2010 for men or 2011 for women. A Canadian cup could make an operating profit of $15 million, based on $366 million net revenue and $351 million operating costs, according to a Deloitte & Touche report commissioned by the Canadian Soccer Association and the Canadian government. These projections do not include the hosting grant from FIFA.
ANOTHER CUP SPONSOR: FIFA Marketing AG, the company set up to sell the marketing rights to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups after the collapse of marketing partner ISMM/ISL, signed Toshiba as a technology sponsor for the two tournaments. Toshiba will provide computer hardware for the tournaments. The deal followed one making Avaya the "official convergence communications partner" of the World Cup.
FIFA OOPS: While new sponsorships have no doubt helped FIFA's credibility in the wake of marketer ISL's problems, one announcement also caused new embarrassment. FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced June 7 that Japan's NTT Telecommunications was signed up for 2002. The next day, NTT denied that a final decision had been made to sponsor the event. FIFA has acknowledged there was a misunderstanding that it was trying to clarify. If it does come aboard, NTT Telecommunications will provide its services in Japan for the 2002 World Cup, in the same way that Korea Telecom is providing its services in South Korea.
NOT-SO-SPARKLING WINES: A panel of London Evening Standard wine experts had a sour aftertaste after reviewing the wares of city soccer clubs that, like many English clubs, sell their own wine under the club brand. Millwall's white wine was described as "No fruit, just that gentle hint of industrial chemicals." On Crystal Palace's white: "A professional buyer who bought this for a wine selection would be fired." Charlton Athletic's red wine (branded The Valley, the name of Charlton's stadium) was described as having "the horrific smell of decaying carpets" with an "aftertaste of floor cleaner."
— Jay Stuart
France, holder of both the world and European championship titles, confirmed its position as the No. 1 soccer country with a 1-0 victory over host nation Japan in the Confederations Cup final June 10. Success on the field, meanwhile, continues to translate into success at the turnstiles. Attendance for Division One games in the French League (LNF) hit a record high this season.
Division One attendance first went above the 6 million mark in the 1998-99 season, after France's victory in the World Cup. In the season just ended, attendance broke the 7 million barrier.
Total attendance for the 18-team league was 7,025,910, up 2.9 percent from 6,831,023 in 1999-2000. The increase is smaller than last season, when it jumped 12.7 percent over the previous year.
The average crowd this season was 22,960, up from 22,324 last season and more than 3,000 spectators larger than two seasons ago (see chart). Teams play a 34-game schedule.
Stadiums were filled to 75 percent capacity this season (it was 95.5 percent for England's Premier League this season). Lens led the league by filling 91 percent of its capacity for the season. Lens also set a home attendance record with a crowd of 40,651 for the game against Nantes, eventual winner of the league championship. Two small teams also set new home crowd standards, Sedan (16,951) and Troyes (17,756).
Olympique Marseille drew the best attendance, averaging 50,755 a game, including the biggest crowd, 56,806 for the home game against Paris St. Germain.
OM, which finished the season in 15th place, is appealing the LNF's decision to demote the club to Division Two on financial grounds. OM was similarly sent down in 1994.
Toulouse also is facing demotion on financial grounds, as well as playing performance. Because that team finished the Division One season in 16th place and would be going down to Division Two anyway (the bottom three are relegated), it has been sentenced to Division Three instead. Toulouse also is appealing the ruling. Final decisions on these cases are scheduled to be made Wednesday.
St. Etienne is going down from Division One to Division Two under unusual circumstances. The team was penalized seven points for using foreign players with fake passports (two Brazilians and a Ukrainian). The deduction of points means St. Etienne has finished in 17th place. A French court ruled that the deduction of points should be suspended, but the LNF released official final standings showing the team next to last. Although there have been press reports that St. Etienne might be spared relegation if OM and Toulouse lose their appeals, the LNF's chief spokesman said last Tuesday that St. Etienne's fate is sealed.
Season Total Average 2000-01 7,025,910 22,960 1999-2000 6,831,023 22,324 1998-99 6,061,010 19,807 Source: Ligue Nationale de Football
Jay Stuart is editorial director for SporTVision magazine and Sports TV Report and Sports Investor newsletters.