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In this edition of the Scoreboard, we describe the financial crisis facing the next president of FC Barcelona, look at Lachlan Murdoch’s bet on sports betting at Fox, explain NBA Top Shot and the digital craze for sports memorabilia, and much more.
Barcelona’s crisis and the cost of football’s short-term thinking
It’s been a terrible week at FC Barcelona. The offices of the Catalan football club were ambushed from the police. The executives and the ex-president were arrested. And it was ordered to repay millions in euros after the Supreme Court of Europe ruled this Receiving illegal state aid.
Remarkably, these matters are the club’s least of a problem.
Barcelona’s 140,000 members will vote on its next president on Sunday. It’s a three-way race between the former club president Joan Laporta, Technology investor Victor font and lawyer Antoni Freixa.
Your in-tray includes: Recover lost revenue because of the pandemic; Rebuilding a stagnant team; and convincing Lionel Messi, Barcelona’s greatest player of all time, stay in the club. Then there is an urgent need to tackle the growing mountain of debt of EUR 1.1 billion, the majority of which is considered short-term and which is due for repayment this year.
Part of the borrowing relates to a € 1 billion refurbishment of the Camp Nou stadium, which could be amortized as future ticketing revenues increase.
However, other liabilities include money owed by its own players for deferred wages in the pandemic and cash owed to competing clubs from previous transfers. It is still paying the £ 142 million fee owed Liverpool in connection with the acquisition of midfielders Philippe Coutinho two years ago – a player who then turned out to be a flop.
Laporta, considered to be the front runner after collecting the most nominations, believe Barcelona should recover quickly once fans return to their stadiums. He plans to refinance his debt and raise cash in the bond markets.
Freixa would like to continue to spend on “two or three top players” with the proceeds of a planned private equity deal: the sale of a stake in Barça Corporate, a company that has companies like its merchandising arm and “Innovation center”.
Font insists that the club will no longer be able to take out loans as further loans will be offered on unfavorable terms in the future. “We’re dealing with Wall Street,” he told Scoreboard. “You won’t be nice and nice.”
Cost reductions like the world’s largest payroll for soccer players are a priority. Font hopes to keep the team competitive by handing over control of the sports operations to the former club legend. Xavi Hernández.
Barcelona’s problems stem from football’s short-term thinking – spending huge amounts of money to get instant results on the field. The financial moves of the next president in the longer term will determine whether Barcelona will keep its place as one of the preeminent institutions in sport.
Read FT’s analysis of the Barcelona crisis with interviews with presidential candidates Here.
Lachlan Murdoch’s sports betting bet at Fox
In the three years since he was taken over as managing director of Fox, Lachlan Murdoch has perhaps put its strongest stamp on the family media empire with a big bet: the sports game.
Rupert MurdochFox’s eldest son was responsible for Fox’s $ 236 million acquisition The Stars Group, a Canadian gambling company. When TSG last year merged with flutter, the British company that controls FanDuelFox poured another $ 100 million into the combined group.
Lachlan also started Fox Bet, the company’s own sports betting platform in the USA, which claims to have reached more than 4 million users.
The strategy is a marked departure from his father’s ethos regarding gambling. Rupert always had reservations about sports betting and viewed the business as harmful to poor families, several people close to the situation told the FT.
Robert Thomson, Managing director of News Corp., is also nervous about revenue flowing into Murdoch’s own newspaper group through sports betting partnerships, these people said.
Fox, like other old media groups, is grappling with the long-term decline of traditional television. Lachlan is excited to talk about more forward-thinking companies like sports games and a video streaming service called Tubi.
The 49-year-old is less interested in the daily work of a listed company and is fed up with it relentless controversy Surroundings Fox Newssay several people who have worked with him.
In Fox’s last call for earnings, Lachlan mentioned Tubi 44 times, far more than his 23 referrals to Fox News, the television network that remains the company’s main source of income.
Fox is in the middle of high-stakes negotiations with the National soccer league for the rights to air games after the 2022-23 season. Lachlan has spoken of a virtuous cycle between Fox Bet and the company’s television channels.
The betting platform aims to get fans more involved in the live broadcasts and help improve ratings – a crucial point as the number of Americans canceling their pay-TV packages increases every year.
Other media groups may like NBCUniversal and Disney have also tried to get into the burgeoning US sports betting industry, the JP Morgan It is estimated that revenues will reach $ 9.2 billion by 2025, up from $ 1.5 billion a year ago as more U.S. states legalize the practice.
Starting in July, Fox has the option to acquire 50 percent of TSG’s US operations and 18.5 percent of FanDuel. Analysts believe Fox will wait for the final price on its NFL deal to be determined before deciding whether to exercise these options. And on Thursday, Lachlan warned Fox had “a long way to go” before finalizing negotiations with the NFL.
Read the great book on the Murdoch family follow-up drama Here.
NBA Top Shot: The Crypto Collectibles That Transform Sports Memorabilia
A strange new phenomenon crops up in the more than $ 5.4 billion US Sports Memorabilia Industry: Consumers buy and sell digital versions of national basketball federation Game highlights, some for starting at $ 200,000.
In the summer of 2019, the NBA and its players’ association announced a partnership with the blockchain consumer company Dapper Labs to develop a platform for digital sports memorabilia. The result of this collaboration, which started in beta last October, is NBA top shot, a marketplace for “non-fungible tokens” or NFTs from NBA highlights.
In fact, Top Shot is taking the idea of tradable sports cards, converting them into digital assets, and enabling them to be bought and resold in blockchain. You can read the full breakdown of how the FT works Here.
The top shop collecting craze has increased over the past two months as is pleasing the players CJ McCollum and team owners like Mark Cuban to have started to hype the initiative. More than 200,000 people waited in an online queue last week for about 10,000 “packs” of Moments to be released – similar to packs of sports cards.
Now a twelve second long clip of Lebron James Immerse yourself in the Sacramento Kings in 2019 is worth almost as much as the typical home in the USA. Still, everyone can see a version of the dunk free on youtube.
What is that supposed to mean? Industry executives say Top Shot’s rabid popularity exemplifies two bull cases in the world of sports.
First, these digital memorabilia could be the next frontier for sports collectibles, especially for Generation Z. “For a new generation of fans, a digital thing may be more ‘real’ to them than a physical object,” said the co-founder of Dapper Labs Mik Naayem said scoreboard.
Second, early anecdotal evidence of the top shot craze suggests it is gaining traction among non-traditional sports fans and expanding the NBA’s appeal to new audiences.
The collectors told Scoreboard that the appeal was the experience: finding an online community, fighting boredom in the pandemic, and making a game out of collecting financial profits, similar to how the recent craze from Reddit traders targeting the stock market.
It’s not surprising that the pioneer in this new fad is the NBA, widely regarded as the leader in the US sports business from the introduction of the salary cap in the 1980s to the premier league that allowed jersey advertising.
Time will tell if this is a passing pandemic or the dawn of a new era for collectibles.
Read the FT analysis on NBA Top Shot Here.
The women Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this October should be postponedrecommended the international governing body of sport. World Rugby will make a final decision on the future of the tournament next week.
A new deal might see Amazon Acquired broadcast rights for a significant number of National Football League games on Thursday evening, according to the Wall Street Journal. An agreement could be reached as early as next week.
A picture of the Irish coach Gordon Elliott shocked race sitting on a dead horse. The Grand National-winning trainer was banished Banned from sport for one year, suspended for six months and sentenced by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board to pay a cost of € 15,000.
Manchester United picked up his first quarterly profit since before the pandemic in march 2020 and in the destination the return of the fans to The English Premier League Games. However, net debt has risen to £ 455.5m, an increase of more than 16 percent over the same period last year.
cricket, tennis and horse race will be among the main beneficiaries of a UK Government £ 300m bailout package it was revealed in Chancellor Rishi SunakBudget. The financial support is intended to help the sport survive as events continue to take place behind closed doors.
The UK government is also throwing £ 3million behind a 2030 football offer World Championship. Anticipated rivals include China and a South American bid led by Argentina and Uruguay.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, The former basketball star has joined the board of directors fanatic, the merchandiser who helps sports teams digitize the way they sell clothes.
A dozen women have joined the board of the late 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The symbolic gesture After that Seiko Hashimoto became President of the Games after her predecessor’s sexist remarks and subsequent resignation.
Kevin Mayer, the dealmaker who started it Disney + Streaming service and later briefly CEO of Tick tockhas become chairman of DAZN, the loss-making sports streaming platform.
Worst place for an American sports franchise is in the middle. To win is to win. Teams that finish last receive the comfort of a top choice for draft picks.
Why this video by New York Knicks Fans absolutely go bananas This week shows how much their supporters have suffered over the years. The team hit a record of .500 for the first time since 2013 and won half of their games so far this season. The Knicks are fighting for a place in the NBA playoffs. For beleaguered fans, it pays to achieve mediocrity.
The scoreboard was written by Samuel Agini, Murad Ahmed and Arash Massoudi in London, Sara Germano, James Fontanella-Khan and Anna Nicolaou in New York, with contributions from the team responsible for the due diligence newsletter, the FT’s global correspondents and data network, creates visualization team.