Year In Review: Heineken Cup Fallout, Media, Stadium Battles Dominate U.K. Headlines
The SBD Global staff compiled the top sports business stories for '13 by region to be published in the final four Global editions of the year. Here are the top stories from the U.K.
HEINEKEN CUP RUNS DRY: English Premiership clubs confirmed their exit from the Heineken Cup late in the year, likely putting an end to what had been rugby’s most prestigious tournament since its ’95 inception. The unions of France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy -- but notably not England -- recently issued a joint statement saying they backed European Rugby Cup and the plans for a revised competition under its control. However, that was not enough to convince the English clubs to go back on their stated desire to leave and set up an alternative competition.
BT BATTLES SKY: BT achieved what the Financial Times called “its biggest sporting coup yet” when it beat out Sky for the right to show Champions League football in a $1.4B deal. BT launched two new channels in June and began broadcasting the first of 38 live Premier League matches following a $1.2B acquisition of EPL rights in ‘12.
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: After months of negotiations, EPL West Ham secured the future of London’s Olympic Stadium by agreeing to a 99-year lease of the venue beginning in ’16. Local and national government pledged an additional $98M to the $305M conversion cost to help transform the venue into a 54,000-seat football stadium. In late December, however, London Legacy officials said West Ham must share the stadium with Leyton Orient.
SCOTTISH REBRANDING: The Scottish Professional Football League underwent a complete rebranding in ’13 with new division names, a new logo and a new merged setup. The divisions were called the Scottish Premiership, the Scottish Championship, Scottish League 1 and Scottish League 2.
END OF AN ERA: ManU Manager Alex Ferguson stepped down from his post in May after 26 years at the helm, ending one of the most decorated managerial eras in British football. Ferguson won 13 English league titles, two European Cups, five FA Cups and four League Cups as well as the FIFA Club World Cup. ManU’s revenue rose from £25.2M at the end of the ’92-93 season to £335 in Ferguson’s final season as manager.