In April 1967, in an era when sports rights-holders were apt to worry about the impact of television on attendance figures, Football League chairmen in England took less than half an hour to turn down a BBC live television proposal worth a then highly respectable £781,000.
By David Owen
One line in Watford’s recent annual accounts jumped out at me. Explaining a near 15% increase in turnover, the strategic report said this was “mainly due to an increase in Media & Broadcasting revenue because of a higher finishing position consequently attracting increased centralised distributions from the Premier League”.
City Football Group (CFG)’s business strategy always seemed rather baffling. Yes, OK, assemble a collection of similar businesses – in this case football clubs – inside the same tent and you can shave back-office costs. You might be able to engineer a less wasteful talent development pipeline than one-legged rivals. And if the real aim is soft power, well, the Abu Dhabi flag has been well and truly planted in outposts of the beautiful game from Melbourne to Mumbai.
By David Owen
October 21 – Women’s football is on a roll – and more power to its elbow for that. Nonetheless, the viewing figures for this summer’s Women’s World Cup, released at the end of last week to some fanfare, deserve to be treated with a certain amount of caution.
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.