InsiderSport: On The Ball – Sterling, MLS and UEFA

From sponsorship to the ever-expanding world of football media coverage, when it comes to the business of football, InsiderSport has you covered. This edition looks at MLS expansions and the latest in La Liga broadcasting.

ITV continues successful La Liga partnership

A last minute deal struck between ITV and La Liga will see the British broadcaster televise the opening game of the Spanish football league season, as Athletic Bilbao host Barcelona at the San Mamés.

The deal follows on from ITV’s coverage of last seasons end to the Spanish league, with the free-to-air TV organisation confirming they will also host two more matches following the season opener, FC Barcelona vs. Real Betis on 25 August and Villarreal CF vs. Real Madrid on 1 September. 

Read More. 

MLS reportedly set to announce 28th franchise

According to reports coming out of the US, St. Louis Missouri looks set to join Major League Soccer (MLS) and become the competition’s 28th franchise. 

Both KMOX Radio and the St. Louis Dispatch reported the news, with the latter claiming the expansion is set to be officially awarded by the MLS at an event on 20 August and that the club would need to pay a $200m expansion fee.

Although the MLS is yet to directly comment on the reports, the St. Louis ownership group, fronted by Carolyn Kindle Betz, president of Enterprise Holdings Foundation, and World Wide Technology chief executive Jim Kavanaugh, released a statement: “Major League Soccer is responsible for the timing of any announcements around League expansion, but we remain confident St. Louis has made a strong case for a team.” 

The group, which is named ‘MLS4TheLou’, has received high praise of late, with MLS League commissioner Don Garber’s hailing the group’s expansion efforts as “amazing” while also revealing back in April that the league was entering “exclusive, formal” discussions with St. Louis and Sacramento as it aimed to expand from 27 teams to 30.

The reports indicate that the team would be likely to begin competing in 2022, after fellow expansion franchises such as Austin FC, Nashville SC and Club Internacional de Fútbol Miami who are joining up with the league between 2020 and 2021. 

St. Louis has long been seen as a strong favorite to gain a franchise as the league continues its expansion from 27 teams to a targeted 30.

As of yet, specific details surrounding the club such as its official name, crest or colours are yet to be released.  

UEFA postpone tournament update talks

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has confirmed that he has postponed talks over potential changes to the format of club competitions, including the Champions League and Europa League.

The news means that it’s unlikely any formal decision will be made on tournament alterations until at least 2020. Ceferin cited that UEFA is still analysing feedback from a host of different parties and therefore any potential discussions would be premature.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, Ceferin stated to Andrea Agnelli, who is head of the European Club Association and the EL President Lars-Christer Olsson: “As you know very well, UEFA deliberately kicked off the review process for the 2024/27 competition cycle much ahead of our regular schedule and we are therefore in no hurry. We do not, in any case, expect to make a decision this year.”

The announcement followed a private meeting, which took place in Liverpool between the ECA executive board, led by Agnelli, for the discussion of an overhaul of continent-wide club competitions from 2024.

According to reports, UEFA has touted changes to close off Europe’s top competition to only a certain set of elite teams, however these plans have split the ECA with many including the Premier League offering resistance to such plans.

Raheem Sterling reportedly set to dunk Jordan deal

Manchester City and England footballer, Raheem Sterling could be about to put pen to paper on one of the most high-profile and lucrative boot deals in history, after reports emerged that he’s weighing up a deal to switch from Nike to Jordan Brand.

The Telegraph has reported that the Premier League winner is considering a deal which would see him become the first footballer to sign a personal endorsement to exclusively wear Air Jordan football boots. Brazillian footballer Neymar previously wore the boots for Paris Saint-Germain games in the past.

The Sterling and Jordan partnership would immediately become one of highest-profile deals in the world, and would also see the FWA Footballer of the year earn an insane £100 million from the deal. The Wembley-raised baller is in his final year of his current Nike boot deal, and during his time with Nike, has become one of the most marketable players in the game after his world-class ability on the pitch and game-changing public voice off it.

The 24-year-old has started the season just as he ended the last, scoring a hat-trick in Manchester City’s opening game of the season away at West Ham, where the citizens cruised to a 5-0 victory.

The attacker’s form last season, which was instrumental in helping City capture the domestic treble, also saw Sterling named as the The Football Writers’ Associationplayer of the year. 

If the deal is one to eventually go through, it would be a huge coup for the Jordan Brand, with the Nike subsidiary brand keen to further assert themselves into the world of football after changing the game with their Paris Saint-Germain partnership.

Leicester City nets a duo of deals

Leicester City Football Club has deepened its portfolio of partners, announcing new deals with growing money transfer brand Xpress Money and Asian betting operator 19.com.

The partnerships will see the Xpress Money become Leicester’s Official Money Transfer Partner, with 19.com taking on the role as the club’s new official betting partner.

Harj Hir, Head of Partnerships, commented: “Ahead of the new Premier League season, exclusive events and experiences are in store for Xpress Money customers and LCFC fans across the world. We are delighted to establish a partnership with one of the world’s largest money transfer companies. We are very much looking forward to working with the Xpress Money team and our global popularity provides a perfect platform for the partnership to deliver a number of exciting initiatives.”

Xpress Money works towards the goal of making money transfers convenient to millions of expatriates residing away from their homes. The company is known as one of the most dependable international money transfer companies and has a network of over 200,000 partner locations worldwide.

Hir also commented on the 19.com partnership: “We are continuing to build our international profile and this partnership is an exciting one for the Football Club,” he added. “It will help to strengthen our global reputation, particularly in Asia where we have a strong presence and significant status in the region.”

The Global Gaming subsidiary will have its branding displayed across Leicester’s matchday LED boards, as well as the club’s interview backdrops. The new agreement is hoped to boost the exposure of the betting operator across the European market as it looks to ‘benefit from the global coverage of Leicester City and the Premier League.’

Leicester’s Premier League campaign commenced on Sunday, with a goalless draw at home to Wolves. The game was almost won by Wolves, however VAR ruled out the goal after a Willy Boly handball.

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