Alistair Burt, a former Minister of the Crown, is one of those increasingly rare Conservative MPs who don’t make you feel like you have been transported to the Planet Zog when you talk or, more recently, listen to them.
So, how were the last four years for the FIFA business? With the governing body’s 2018 financial report finally published in the wake of the Miami Council meeting, a proper analysis can now be attempted.
By David Owen
If there is one message to FIFA from the TV viewing figures for Russia 2018, it is that, if it wants to attract even bigger audiences, it must hope for, or somehow engineer, greater diversity in its crown jewel’s final stages.
The good news for Premier League club owners: top-tier English football has never been more profitable. The bad news: this is probably as good as it is going to get for at least the next five years – an age in terms of media technology.
The Bundesliga is the top football league in Western Europe’s most populous country. Based purely on these two facts, you might expect it to generate more revenue than any other rival league worldwide.
How many 19th century industries can say they have more than tripled revenues over the first 16 years of this millennium? My hunch would be only one: European club football which, according to the latest UEFA Club Licensing Benchmarking Report, generated revenues of €18.5 billion in 2016, up from €6 billion in 2000.
It was interesting to read my colleague Andrew Warshaw’s piece this week recounting Catalán sports minister Gerard Figueras’s thoughts on where the region’s top football clubs might play should the region achieve independence.
From the vantage-point of today, the Garcia report has something of the air of the Dead Sea Scrolls – an important relic offering vital clues about how life was lived in a bygone era.
Politics and sport make uneasy, if unavoidable, bedfellows. This has been underlined plenty of times in just the past few months and is now being highlighted once again by tensions in the Gulf centred on Qatar, host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
As the biographer of Foinavon, it should come as no surprise that I think the late-1960s was the greatest period in the history of sport. And on Thursday, another landmark 50th anniversary falls – that of the 1967 European Cup final, the night of the Lisbon Lions, the match that made household names of Jock Stein and Billy McNeill.
If I were FIFA, I think I would be just a little concerned about this week’s 12-year sponsorship deal between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Let’s be clear: the McLaren Investigation Report, the second part of which was unveiled in London last week, poses no threat to Russia’s World Cup.
I know what you’re all thinking: it’s hard to imagine anything the world needs more right now than a new 32-team international club football competition. Believe it or not, however, there are two entities that need this innovation even more than you do: one is FIFA, the world football body; the other is Gianni Infantino, its bashful new President.
In September it was reported that Javier Tebas, showman President of La Liga, had given conditional support to the notion of a breakaway European Super league. Well, to judge by his bravura performance at Sportel Monaco last week, the newly-re-elected Spaniard has undergone an evolution in his thinking.
If 2016 has taught us anything, it is not to kid ourselves that we can see too far into the future. With that proviso, it looks ever more probable, almost a decade before the first ball is actually kicked, that the United States will have a leading role in hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup.