SBC’s on the ball: Hartlepool United, Qatar 2022 and the English Football League

From sponsorship to the ever-expanding world of football media coverage, when it comes to the business of football, SBC has you covered. This edition looks at financial trouble for Hartlepool United as well as plans for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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Iran could assist Qatar with 2022 World Cup hosting

It was always expected that when the 2022 World Cup takes place in Qatar, other nations in the region would support the country with resources.

However, that support was thrown into jeopardy last June, when the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain all reacted angrily to Qatar’s continued support for Islamists and the country’s connection to Iran.

It has fuelled widespread speculation that Iran could play a role in helping host the 2022 World Cup. A thought that raises further questions about the process that saw Qatar awarded the tournament in the first place.

In spite of Qatar’s progress with regards to the building of stadia being underwhelming, with it now looking likely that only eight of the promised 12 stadiums will be ready for the tournament, the possibility of Iran, a nation that enforces a stadium ban on females, actually hosting a World Cup game seems highly unlikely. Nonetheless, much to the dismay of many European fans, Iran, a country that abides by Sharia Law may step in and provide accommodation for fans travelling to the tournament.

Hartlepool on the brink as Stelling steps in

The future of North East outfit Hartlepool United remains in doubt, after the club admitted they need £200,000 by 25th January to stay afloat. The sum may seem paltry in comparison to the kind of wage packets Premier League players take home on a weekly basis, but at the other end of the English footballing spectrum, the situation couldn’t be more different.

Nevertheless, the club and the town remain optimistic after a fundraising appeal surpassed the £50,000 mark, and Sky Sports Presenter Jeff Stelling – a lifelong Monkey Hangers fan – has made further calls for wealthy investors to contribute.

“It is frustrating to have a system whereby the top clubs and players dine on lobster and caviar and everyone else is left scrabbling around for the crumbs under the table,“ said Stelling.

“When people are on 450 grand at a Premier League club you do think: ‘Come on Alexis give us a few days of your salary’ But the reality is no Premier League star is going to put his hand in his pocket and give Hartlepool United 200 grand.”

This Saturday’s home tie with Wrexham is already sold out, as the footballing world remains hopeful that the club can muster up the rest of the bill before Thursday’s deadline.

Toon takeover collapses

The proposed takeover of Newcastle United FC by Amanda Staveley has fallen through after current owner Mike Ashley revealed to Sky Sports News: “There is no deal on the table or even under discussion with Amanda Staveley and PCP.”Speculation was rife that a £250m bid had been made by Staveley via her company PCP, however this was much below Ashley’s reported £400m valuation of the club.

Currently sitting in 15th position in the Premier League, with manager Rafa Benitez fighting to keep the club in the top flight, rumblings began of a potential Staveley takeover at St James Park, when they were initially put up for sale in October.

Soccerex attendance report – English second tier setting the standards in attendance  

The Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) has released the second edition if its study that breaks down attendances in all the European league’s that are run by the EPFL.

The study, which goes into great detail about the evolution of fan attendance over the past seven years, revealed that when it comes to top flights, the German Bundesliga is leading the way in terms of the highest level of attendance. However, the English Premier League was revealed to have the highest level of stadium occupancy in Europe, which suggests the desire for the English game is still thriving.

On the whole, attendance figures from throughout Europe were positive, with Ligue 1 and La Liga both being reported positively by the study, whereas in Serie A a slightly negative outlook will have been recuperated by positive figures at the start of this season, something that is likely to continue as a thrilling Scudetto title race reaches its conclusion.

The study also revealed that The English Football League was streaks ahead in terms of attendance for divisions outside the top flight, with England boasting the highest attendances in the second third and fourth divisions respectively. 

A precarious political and financial climate hampered attendances in Greece, Romania, Ukraine and Turkey, countries that all saw attendances drop.

Egyptian expansion leaves Arsenal top of the North African pyramid

Partnering with Arsenal FC, Hyde Park Developments has agreed to become the Premier League’s first retail estate partner in Egypt.

The agreement will affirm The Gunner’s position as one of the most sought after clubs in the region, with the club co-hosting training camps and coaching sessions in the region, as well as this Arsenal legends and first team players will visit Cairo and new premises the promote content and provide coaching sessions.

Arsenal’s chief commercial officer, Vinai Venkatesham, commented: “We are pleased to announce this landmark partnership with Hyde Park Developments, our first in Egypt.

“Arsenal has fantastic support in Egypt where we have our second largest Facebook following of more than 2.5 million. We look forward to working with Hyde Park Developments to help them fulfil their business goals and for us to engage further with our passionate supporters in Egypt.”

Hyde Park Developments chief executive officer Amin Serag said: “Since football is by far the most loved sport in the country, it is only natural that one of Arsenal’s largest fan bases has developed over here. We are planning to directly reach out to those followers and engage in common activities for the benefit of both brands.

“Partnering with Arsenal will allow us not only to enhance our brand perception through association with a globally recognised and respected brand, but also to cater to our living community lifestyles at Hyde Park, the New Cairo and Cairo overall.”

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