Business news items that can make you sit up and refocus...think hard and act

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Do all you can to capture the value of natural and known attributes. But then look further. What is the essence of your service or product? How does it align with the needs of your clients? What draws new interest, creates new imaginative ideas? Do you compare well with your competitors?  Then tell them the story, what it means, how it delivers your customer's 'feel' and most importantly, the way you differentiate.

"The most scary and the most risky things that I have taken on have been the most rewarding. And that sucks." Connie Britton, actress

It's big sports events season...
We're midway through the AFC 2015 Asian Football Cup. Tennis has been live on two Seven channels. How did you like Federer's 1000th win at Brisbane?  The Australian Open is underway. The Tour Down Under is pumping. In the tread of tests with India and England  plus the Big Bash, we'll soon have the ICC World Cricket Cup.

The AFC 2015 Asian Football Cup is going well, great venue turn-outs, good TV audiences, valuable engagement of cultural groups and business interests. The opening match in Melbourne was sellout while the largest crowd in the first days, over 50,000, was for Australia v Oman at Stadium Australia in Sydney. And now Australia moves ahead after winning against China.  Marvellous.

Pity about the Brisbane pitch quality which seems to have marred some impressions - and probably fairly so. We wrote recently about the poor quality of playing surfaces for international events in some Asian venues and really didn't think an Aussie venue would be 'lumped' with those. 
Credit: Image above, AFC match at Brisbane, by Ethan Rohloff Photography,

What’s happened to the sports edge of SBS?  They were the big soccer/football broadcaster for the FIFA World Cup, but they ain’t got that gig for the AFC 2015 Asian Cup. That’s now delivered by the ABC.
Now, Cycling Australia has ditched SBS to reveal details of an unprecedented two-year broadcast partnership with the Nine Network and FOX SPORTS. The partnership, which runs to the end of 2016, will see road, track and mountain bike showcased on both the free-to-air network and subscription service Foxtel via a combination of live and delayed scheduling, and event highlights packages. Cycling is one of the fastest growing sports in the country – there are some 4 million riders.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced a new partnership with ANZ as the Official Bank in New Zealand for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

Separately Cricket Australia has tied up with Apple to deliver cricket broadcasts through the Apple TV platform. This is one outcome of Cricket Australia’s $60 million digital joint venture with Nine Network - part of a $550 million cash and contra broadcast rights agreement with Nine and Ten - that was signed in 2013. A dedicated cricket channel will be created on Apple’s TV ­network to show highlights, news ­packages, historic matches and player interviews – and to carry advertising.
In parallel, Cricket Australia and Nine sell digital subscriptions to consumers for live match coverage and information for mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers.

Cricket Australia has been listed as finalist in two categories of the Sports Technology Awards to be decided in the UK in March. Well done guys. 

By the way, did you see the "you'll never lamb alone" advert featuring Richie Benaud? Here you are, CLICK HERE

Telstra-Populous-ANZ Stadium
Telstra’s Populous-designed “Connected Lounge” at ANZ Stadium has also been included as a finalist in two categories of the Sports Technology Awards, conducted in the UK.  This is regarded as the outcome of an imaginative design and business relationship … an imaginative and totally immersive game day experience for fans to attending a live sporting event.  The former stock standard hospitality suite at ANZ Stadium has been converted into an interactive technology centre delivering content simultaneously using several platforms and held for the 2014 NRL Grand Finals.

“The redesigned lounge is not intended as an exclusive corporate event, rather it’s meant to be the epicentre of fan engagement, creating brilliant experiences for our fans and customers.  We wanted to use technology to bring fans closer to the action, keeping them “connected” in an environment and atmosphere that was exciting”, said Telstra’s Group Media Manager, Matt McCann. “We wanted to create something different and now we want to roll this out in every Stadium in the country.  The idea is to cement our position in sport and make the fan experience at the live event even better than it is already.”

US Soccer widens its scope
Now is this evidence of the growth of popularity of soccer in the US? Or just serious competitiveness to use stadia that have been built across the country?  Or both, maybe.  US Soccer has revealed the long-list of cities interested in hosting games during the Copa America Centenario in 2016, the 100th anniversary of CONMEBOL, South America’s soccer association. The US was announced as the host of the special tournament in May last year.

Twenty-four metropolitan areas of the US have expressed interest in staging games. Final proposals will be made by mid-March. The winning cities will then be revealed in May, with US Soccer anticipating between eight to thirteen stadiums to be used in total; each to have a minimum capacity of 50,000.
The full list of interested cities are: Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Washington DC, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, Kansas City, St Louis, Greater New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Nashville, Dallas, Houston and Seattle.

The Copa America will be staged as normal later this year, with Chile playing host, before the Copa America Centenario takes place on 3 - 26 June, 2016. Brazil and Ecuador have already been confirmed as hosts of the Copa America in 2019 and 2023 respectively.

"Emerging giants" invest in soccer and sport
Repucom has published "Emerging Giants", a report that examines the trend of investment in sports sponsorship from the Middle East into European soccer and from Asia into US sports franchises.  Middle-Eastern investment in top-level sports around the world with no sign of any slowdown. Across Europe, US$1.5 billion has been spent by Middle Eastern investors and groups on team ownership, while in the last two years alone, Asian businessmen have invested approximately US$1.1 billion in US sports franchises, the report says.

English football clubs Manchester City, Arsenal and Nottingham Forest all have Middle Eastern shareholders. Last week we highlighted that French club Paris St. Germain is 100% Qatari owned. Top Spanish club Malaga is also.

Abu Dhabi Holdings spent $330 million for a 90% in Manchester City in 2008.

Spanish giants Barcelona are sponsored by Qatar Airlines, Manchester City are backed by Etihad, while Real Madrid, PSG, Arsenal and AC Milan all carry the Emirates logo on their shirts.
The United Arab Emirates, whose investment was virtually non-existent less than 10 years ago, has emerged as the biggest single investor in the sponsorship of European team soccer shirts, the Repucom report says. During the 2009/10 season, shirt sponsorship by Middle Eastern companies was worth about US$24.6 million. In 2014, UAE companies, led by Emirates and Etihad, invested US$163 million in shirt sponsorship as the Arab state surpassed Germany at the top of the sponsorship investment table.

Further to our article last week on Qatar’s quest to pursue sporting events, Qatar’s largest private bank, Commercial Bank has extended its sponsorship of the Commercial Bank Qatar Golf Masters through to 2018.

     Click on the extract (right) to get to the full article.

China is a new source of sport investors
Wang Jianlin, chairman of the Dalian Wanda property group, has agreed to buy a 20% stake in Atletico de Madrid football club, the latest move by China’s second-richest man to build a global entertainment empire stretching from China’s rust belt to the heart of Hollywood. This negotiation was first rumoured last October. The deal is said to be worth about €45 million euros.
Wang Jianlin ranked No.1 on last year’s Forbes China Rich List with US$13.2 billion net worth. Dalian Wanda Group is a commercial property developer and cinema chain operator. In the 1990s, the group sponsored one of China’s most successful soccer teams, but later withdrew due to growing concerns with corruption. The Chinese conglomerate has recently negotiated to acquire the Infront Sports & Media agency, a deal reportedly worth about €1bn ($1.24bn).

In the seasons 2011 to 2014, Atletico won the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and Europa League, and also reached the Champions League final. The club has simultaneously been battling against debts which reached over €500 million, including tax arrears which have been reduced recently but still total around €80 million. 
The club’s revenue and operating income were less than one fifth of those of Real Madrid in the 2012-2013 season, whereas the average salary for its players was only a third of Real’s.

 Queensland State election brings out the promises
  The Liberal government has lined up $60 million for a fund for attracting major sporting and cultural events and film/TV-making to the state. This would supplement Tourism and Events Queensland’s resources, with a competitive process proposed. They are looking for new events and jobs creation.  Opposition Labor has promised $40 million over four years, also to be managed via Tourism and Events Queensland.
The end game for each party is to boost tourism, capacity and attractiveness.

Just for Australia Day…Pizza Hut has created a Vegemite pizza, the Mitey Stuffed Crust Pizza is an option to add a Vegemite and molten mozzarella cheese stuffed crust to any Pizza Hut pizza, for $3 - for a limited time.
 “It doesn’t smell bad.”  “What is the black thing?”   CLICK HERE to see what a selection of backpackers think!

About "Back on the Block"
Published by New Millennium Business. The company is led by Ericc Winton, who is widely known across the business of major international events. His clients include Australian and international companies and agencies.
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Ericc has been a judge for the Australian Event Awards for several years.
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Major sports and events business...
Sponsors make the merry-go-round
The Australian Open has increased prize money to an historic high of $40 million. Men and women singles winners will each get $3.1m while a first round loser will receive $34,500. Last year the prize pool was lifted to $33m and plans were announced in October for a further increase to $36.3m. The move means the Australian Open prize money has effectively doubled since it was at $20m in 2007.

The Chinese Football Association has signed a long-term kit manufacturing and equipment partnership with US sportswear giant Nike. The deal commences immediately and runs until 2026. Nike replaces rival brand Adidas as the CFA’s sportswear partner and China’s national team will begin wearing the firm’s kits at this month’s Asian Cup national team tournament.

Citi becomes the third of the Swans’ top three partners to have extended its affiliation with the club. Principal partner QBE and other major partner Volkswagen both renewed deals with the club in August. Under the agreement, that began in 2005, from 2015 until at least the end of 2017.Citi will continue to serve as a second-tier major partner of the club and will benefit from branding placement on players’ official jerseys and casual wear.

Coca Cola is ubiquitous
The German Football Association (DFB) has opted to extend its partnership with soft drinks company Coca-Cola.The new deal will run for three years, from 2015 through to the end of 2017.Coca-Cola will continue to work with the DFB on its ‘Fan Club’ initiative, which enables supporters to gain early access to tickets to major sporting events.The agreement will extend a partnership that began in 1981. Coca-Cola serves as one of six premium partners of the DFB alongside Bitburger, Commerzbank, Deutsche Post, Deutsche Telekom and SAP.

Coca-Cola has been named as the official soft drink of next year's Rugby World Cup.The deal, which continues a relationship between event and company that began with the Rugby World Cup in South Africa 19 years ago, sees Coca-Cola secure pouring rights at all England 2015 venues and official fan zones.Coca-Cola's water brand and Powerade sports drink will be made available to the 20 teams competing in the tournament.

As part of the deal, the Coca-Cola Company will make its water (glacéau smartwater) and Powerade sports drink brand available to the competing 20 teams.The brand will also have exclusive soft drink pourage rights at all Rugby World Cup 2015 venues and fan-zones.
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2015 Pacific Games, Port Moresby
More than PNK K30 million (about$11.5 million) has been raised through sponsorship with seven months to go until the start of the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games. In total, 19 organisations comprising of state owned entities and private corporate organisations have signed up, in three different "platinum, gold and silver" sponsorship categories.

Bank of South Pacific is the official sponsor of the Games. with platinum sponsors comprising copper and gold manufacturer Ok Tedi, as well as Telikom, SP Brewery, PNG Power Ltd and Puma Energy.
Others, including Olympic TOP partner Coca-Cola, are among a total of 10 gold sponsors, while car rental company Hertz is a silver sponsor.
This puts organisers in a strong position to reach the total target of K60 million ($23 million), with this figure including sponsorship as well as other revenue streams. More than 90% of this has now been raised for what is set to be the biggest international sporting event ever held in Papua New Guinea.

Port Moresby 2015 is seeking a ticketing organisation to work on all facets of the games ticketing including marketing and information dissemination. Ticket sales are likely to go on sale from March or April.

The end of Batista in Brazil's sports arena
Eike Batista, the Brazilian former multi-millionaire whose oil and commodities empire has collapsed in the last two years, has sold his 50% stake in IMX, the agency he operated as a joint venture with IMG, the global sports and entertainment company, to Mubadala Development Group, the Abu Dhabi development fund. The deal makes Mubadala the majority investor in IMX, still in conjunction with IMG.
The stake had been held by EBX, Batista’s conglomerate of six logistics and commodities companies in which Mubadala invested $2 billion in 2012.

Batista had been seeking a buyer for his stake since June 2014, with the price tag pegged at some $500 million. Batista, with large oil holdings, has lost 99% of his personal fortune, with his net worth falling to $200 million. The fall represented the biggest erosion in wealth since Bloomberg launched its ‘Billionaires Index’ in March 2012.
It is understood that the X in the name will be dropped, but a new name has not yet been unveiled.

IMX business includes the Rio Open ATP tennis tournament, the organisation of an NBA basketball game in Brazil, the Volvo Ocean Race stop in Brazil and a range of PGA golf tournaments, organising and promoting the Rock in Rio music festivals and a 50% stake in the Cirque du Soleil entertainment brand. The company also manages Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium, a deal which was closed in April 2013. IMX Talents, its player representation arm, may well be sold.

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