Broadcast, Digital & Media, Future Trends, Governance & Commercial Growth, Partnerships, Sport Business | Jul 29, 2020 | 8 min read

Charting the money, the moves, and the media across the global business of sport

By James Emmett


Hello one and all, and thanks for opening the latest edition of the Leaders Digest, your weekly crib sheet for interpreting the global business of sport.


4 Questions, Answered

1.) Would you like us to give you £200?

Of course you would. And we will. We’re doing some research on peer-to-peer networks and how we can beef up our digital arsenal to make doing business easier for you, and we’d love your input. There are 19 questions to answer and a £200 Amazon voucher up for grabs. Thanks very much indeed for your time.


2.) Where are we at?

It’s tempting to say ‘all over the place’, but that wouldn’t be quite accurate. Just as different governments have taken different approaches to tackling the pandemic, and find themselves in different stages of recovery as a result, so sports entities find themselves approaching different phases of ‘the return’. In Europe, with the majority of major soccer league seasons now successfully completed behind closed doors, attention has turned to the challenge and the specifics of welcoming back some semblance of a physical audience. Just as it did with its initial return to play plan, the Bundesliga is out of the blocks quickly with a codified set of protocols for bringing fans back. In the US, meanwhile, it feels like a frenzied game of hopscotch, with hype videos for virtual bleachers at ballparks, bubbles and Zoom walls  representing significant steps forward, and the stuttering restart made by MLB and the cancellation of the NFL’s preseason looking more like inching backwards. Strength and solidarity to all.


3.) Who owns athlete data?

It’s an interesting question, and one that has been asked on many a sports industry panel for the last five years, even if it hasn’t really been satisfactorily answered. That could be about to change with the launch of a major lawsuit signed by over 400 professional footballers in the UK and led by the unlikely figure of Russell Slade.


4.) How many examples of great social media return-to-play creative would make for a comprehensive playbook?

Greenfly have compiled 180 in theirs, and it’s hard to argue with that. It’s free to download, and all 180 examples are more or less ready to rip-and-reuse.


The Digest, Digested

Envision Virgin Racing’s Climate Change Forum (2 mins)

Natalie Portman, Alexis Ohanian-led group wins LA NWSL expansion team (2 mins)

Toulouse FC confirm RedBird Capital takeover (2 mins)

Moneyball gets a blank check: first sports SPAC comes from Beane, Cardinale (3 mins)

Brady, Strahan and Chopra sports media venture raises $10 million (2 mins)

Kingdom of Bahrain purchases stake in French club Paris FC (2 mins)

NFL shared revenue hits record $9.5 billion as media payouts rise (2 mins)

Being brave in a new world: how to ready your business for the post-Covid world of 2022 and beyond (10 mins) 


What’s new?


What’s trending?

  • Strong NWSL news – a league on the rise with a star-spangled new ownership group including Natalie Portman (and an executive team including Steph Rudnick) behind its LA expansion team, and record-setting viewership figures for its Challenge Cup Final game. Angel City and all their investors and strong numbers.
  • Love for the Seattle Kraken launch – and love for the exemplary analysis of the latest NHL franchise’s multi-platform approach from marketer Avish Sood. This is how to Twitter thread.





Benny Bonsu at the 2019 Leaders Sports Awards and recognised in the ‘Leader Under 40’ Class of 2019





The early RedBird catches the worm

A couple of eye-catching moves from Gerry Cardinale and his RedBird Capital outfit to report: 1) His takeover of French Ligue 2 club Toulouse, telegraphed to the world at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in Abu Dhabi back in January; 2) His new partnership with Billy Beane and their launch of a $500 million financial vehicle to acquire businesses in sports, media, and, you guessed it, data analytics.


Gerry Cardinale (far right) speaking at The Sport Business Summit, Abu Dhabi in January 2020.


Brady bunch raise cash for films

Tom Brady’s production company, Religion of Sports Media, has raised $10 million for new production projects. Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra are co-founders of the business alongside Brady.


Bahrain invests in Paris

The Bahraini sovereign wealth fund has bought a 20% stake in French Ligue 2 soccer side Paris FC. The club’s better known neighbours, Paris Saint-Germain, are owned by Bahrain’s Middle Eastern neighbours Qatar. The Bahraini investment is being described as a ‘strategic partnership’ at this stage.


Packers dollar update

The Green Bay Packers’ unique ownership structure – its status as a publicly owned non-profit has been grandfathered in – means it provides the only transparent window into the finances of sport’s richest league. That window was open this week as Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy gave a financial update, revealing that the NFL’s 32 teams shared $9.5 billion in national revenue this year. The Packers’ share of $296 million made up 58% of its total 2019 revenue of $506.9 million.


Longer read

  • Five solid rules from Two Circles co-founder Matt Rogan on how to ready a business for the post-Covid world.


Thanks for reading this edition of the Leaders Digest. We’ll have another for you next Wednesday; and if you haven’t subscribed yet, do remember to opt-in here.

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