THIS WEEK IN THE FOOTBALL INDUSTRY - 09/12/2016

Our weekly round up collects the week's best football business stories in one place. This week’s edition features a Premier League first for Bournemouth, Nike further showing their market dominance, an innovative partnership from LaLiga and the first step towards implementing video referees in competitive football, enjoy!

NIKE RESIGN WITH BOTH ENGLAND AND FRANCE NATIONAL TEAMS

Nike will be the official kit supplier for all of England’s national teams after agreeing to a 12 year extension with the FA worth a whopping £400m, the biggest in the governing body’s history. The new deal will see Nike supply England’s kits until 2030, with the current contract in place set to expire after the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. According to reports, the new deal includes several new clauses such as financial penalty if the senior men's team fails to qualify for major tournaments. Despite England’s short comings at Euro 2016, the reported figures would rank second in the world, with the German national team’s kit deal with Adidas being number one.

The sportswear giants also signed an extension to their current deal with the French Football Federation. The new agreement will reportedly see Nike pay over €50m per year, however the official figures have not been released.These agreements are further proof of Nike and adidas’ market dominance , with the two sportswear brands having partnerships with all but one national team in the current top 10 FIFA World Rankings. With many of the contract lengths set at around 10 years, what chance to new market entrants have of breaking their dominance?



AFC BOURNEMOUTH INSTALLS NEW HYBRID PITCH TO MAKE A PREMIER LEAGUE FIRST

AFC Bournemouth has introduced the revolutionary SISGrass system to their pitch at the Vitality Stadium. Installed in just 10 days, the pitch’s first game in use for the Cherries was Sunday’s dramatic 4-3 win against Liverpool. The pitch was installed by British company SIS Pitches by imbedding their SISGrass hybrid system into the existing surface, making AFC Bournemouth the first side in the Premier League to use the system for competitive fixtures. The pitches technology boasts increased stability and the durability for many more playing hours than a grass surface, which could be beneficial with the vast amount of fixtures a Premier League side has over the Christmas and New Year period.

Having previously been installed at the training grounds of Chelsea, Hull City, Fulham, Derby County, Athletic Bilbao and FC Barcelona, the surface will also be used in the Luzhniki Stadium in Russia, where the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be played. Much has been made of artificial surfaces in the past, with many English clubs distrusting the surfaces, citing difficulties playing the way they want to. Big strides in quality have clearly been made and as a ball playing side that have chosen to implement the surface; a successful season for AFC Bournemouth on the pitch could help reverse the distrust that currently surrounds artificial pitches in the UK.



MICROSOFT JOIN FORCES WITH LALIGA

LaLiga have partnered with Global technology giants Microsoft in a deal that will see the company become the new technology partner of the league. By using Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and cloud services, La Liga will be able to better monitor consumer demand for certain fixtures, and can better tailor its marketing accordingly. For example, the recent El Clasico, with the kick off time of 3:15pm on a Saturday afternoon, was designed not only to provide a peak viewing time in Asia but also to allow LaLiga to truly monitor the number of viewer transfers from the 3:00pm Premier League games. With the ability to track demand so precisely, LaLiga can determine exactly when different matches should be played to maximise fan engagement and have the knowledge to get the very most out of the most high profile fixtures across the calendar.

“Our partnership with La Liga is going to lead to a major new wave of innovation in the sports industry,” said Pilar Lópex, president of Microsoft Ibérica. “This will revolutionize the way in which supporters relate to clubs and players, and radically transform the management model of the sports organisations themselves.”



EFL FUTURES LAUNCHED TO HELP YOUNG PLAYER’S DEVELOPMENT

The English Football League this week has launched their new financial incentive scheme for clubs called EFL Futures. The new scheme will be funded with a cash sum of £2.25m, which will be used to reward EFL clubs who introduce young English players into their starting line-ups. The campaign is central to the EFL’s ambition to create opportunities for young players, while also providing clubs with the chance to reduce squad wage bills and increase the potential for transfer fee generation.

EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey commented on the new scheme by stating: “We believe the successful introduction of young English players will not only benefit the EFL as a competition and its 72 clubs, but also the wider game as a whole and we are determined to do what we can to help the nation fulfil its footballing potential. A high performing England national team is good for the game in this country and we are therefore committed to doing everything we can to help the national team develop.”

Whilst the initiative is to be applauded, with a total of 72 clubs in the EFL, a reward sum of only £2.25m spread across that many clubs may not provide many clubs with motivation to adapt their ways. Also, the bulk of top English youngsters currently scattered across different Premier League academies, it appears any significant impact on the national team development would only come from the English top flight adopting a similar scheme.



VIDEO ASSISTANT REFEREES TO BE TESTED AT FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP

Following on from last week’s news that Video Referees could be in place in time for the 2018 World Cup, the process has since taken a huge step forward. At the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, video assistance will be used to support referees with “match-changing” decisions for the first time in a FIFA competition. The trial will involve video assistant referees (VARs) being given access to all broadcast feeds inside a video operations room, enabling them to provide information to the referee on the field of play in order to correct clear mistakes in “match-changing” situations such as goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

“This represents a big step forward in terms of testing the technology,” says Marco van Basten, FIFA’s Chief Officer Technical Development.

Following the initial Dutch trials, FIFA really seem to be leading the way in adopting VAR, which is in stark contrast to the hesitancy they showed with goal line technology. The question now is but which leagues will now follow suit and how long before it is common place in football?



SOCCEREX ASIAN FORUM CONCLUDES IN DOHA

The Soccerex Asian Forum 2016 took place this week in Doha, Qatar, with two days of high-level discussion and networking between the world’s key industry decision makers. Representatives from LaLiga were present to discuss the impact of the digital age in the success of the leagues internationalisation, including the new agreement with Microsoft. Alongside LaLiga, Former Arsenal and FA Vice Chairman, David Dein, gave an engaging presentation on the future of football. He spoke about the growth of Women’s football, alongside making the ground breaking announcement regarding FIFA’s plans to trial Video Assistant Referees. To catch up with all of the goings on from the Forum from day one click here, and to hear about the insight shared from day two click here.


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