The Big Deal Weekly: LIV Golf confirmed for Adelaide, Qatar World Cup controversy, Cricket and Tennis rights latest, four arrested in Brownlow betting probe, crypto collapse impacts sport & more
Newsletter No. 10: November 14, 2022
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Now, let’s rip into it .. starting with an exclusive on the latest plans to bring LIV golf to Australia.
IN THIS WEEK’S WRAP OF THE BIG DEALS
LIV golf set for Adelaide in April
World of controversy ahead of Qatar tournament
It’s just not cricket
Four arrested after Brownlow betting probe
Crypto collapse impacts sport
World Cup in the metaverse
Leeds to fall under 49ers banner
Sports rights guru warns fans set to pay more
Fast money for fast car
Ricciardo stays Mum on future
CONFIRMED: LIV GOLF SET FOR ADELAIDE IN APRIL
The first rebel LIV golf tour on Australian soil will be held in Adelaide, as flagged by The Big Deal back on October 24.
The SA Government confirmed on Monday that the event would be held at the Grange Golf Club between April 21-23, just days after the AFL’s yet to be named inaugural ‘magic round’ would also take place in the Festival state.
Australian star Cameron Smith will be joined by the likes of fellow Aussie Marc Leishman, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Ree, Louis Oosthuizen and others.
The Adelaide event will be part of LIV golf’s 14-round schedule for 2023.
The South Australian government, which has already spent an estimated $140 million on the AFL magic round, has dug further into its coffers for major events, to the tune of an estimated $5 million to secure the tournament.
In doing so, it passed on a three-week “Festival of Golf” spectacular set for October which would have also included a sanctioned PGA event.
SA Premier Peter Malinauskas is clearly making tourism-generating sport in the city one of his priorities, having reinstated the V8 Supercar event to the streets of Adelaide soon after gaining power.
“Securing the first Australian LIV Golf tournament is an exciting coup for South Australia,” Malinauskas said.
“As Premier, I am determined to lure more major events to South Australia, which means more visitors, more economic activity and more jobs.”
The selection of Grange rings home for LIV CEO Greg Norman who won his first professional tournament at the course in 1976.
Meanwhile, LIV Golf has denied it is lining up Taco Bell CEO Mark King to replace Norman as its CEO.
“Any suggestion that changes are being made to Greg’s title or role is patently false,” said LIV Golf managing director Majed Al Sorour in a statement.
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WORLD OF CONTROVERSY AHEAD OF QATAR TOURNAMENT
The 22nd FIFA World Cup begins this weekend under a veil of darkness after former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter’s belated but sensational admission that “Qatar was a mistake” and that the “choice was bad”.
It comes as Netflix releases a four-part documentary where the host nation again is forced to deny involvement in offering bribes of US$2.3m to up to three FIFA voters from Africa.
Corruption and human rights allegations have dogged the Arab state but Blatter’s comments are based not around them but economies of scale.
“It is too small of a country,” the 86-year-old said. “Football and the World Cup are too big for it.”
That may well be true if pictures of the purpose-built fan accommodation are remotely accurate.
There are an estimated 130,000 rooms charging A$400 per night but they look more like shipping containers than a hotel, fit for taking in one of the world’s great sporting events.
Many remain set up more than 40 minutes from venues.
It’s also not known how strictly public drunkenness will be policed - an offence that lands you in jail in Qatar.
That may not be as big a problem as anticipated with word some local sports bars are planning to charge A$425 just for entry to watch the semi-finals and finals.
That cost does include three drinks - that’s a tick over A$140 for a Corona!
Australia was the first country among the five bidding for the 2022 tournament that was eliminated in the 2010 bidding process in Zurich.
Japan and South Korea followed before Qatar incredibly prevailed over the United States by 14 votes to eight.
IT’S JUST NOT CRICKET
Cricket, Australia’s national summer sport, could be forced into a cut-price TV rights deal after one of the potential bidders, the Nine Network, just stumped up $425 million for the tennis rights.
Nine confirmed it will pay an average of $85 million to Tennis Australia for five years between 2025-2029 - a 40 per cent bump on its previous deal.
The former home of cricket still has the capability to bring the game back to its stable but has clearly laid most of its eggs on the centre court at Rod Laver Arena.
The deal also includes the new United Cup, the Adelaide International, the Hobart International, the Davis Cup and the Billie Jean King Cup.
It was once unthinkable that cricket in Australia would struggle to find a suitor but the rise and questionable execution of Twenty 20 cricket via a seemingly never-ending tournament has further diluted the game’s branding.
It has left it with three formats and two sets of fans, many who don’t patronize or even follow both the short and long-form versions.
In terms of commercial free-to-air coverage Cricket Australia must now rekindle its partnership with Nine, the network it abandoned in 2018 after four decades, mend the relationship with its current broadcast partner, Seven, which is trying to sever its $450 million contract in the courts over a lack of quality content, or strike a new deal with Ten and its owners Paramount.
Nine’s new deal with tennis precludes it from showing the Big Bash while Seven is no longer interested in the T20 game.
Both networks are offering little more than $50 million per season to broadcast the Tests.
It will almost certainly force Cricket Australia to turn to its third TV partner in five years with Ten open to buying all formats of the game which would see it regain the Big Bash it broadcast in its first seasons.
Its only other alternatives is to split the formats among various rights holders or explore new opportunities in the streaming sphere.
FOUR ARRESTED AFTER BROWNLOW BETTING PROBE
Four people have been arrested while an AFL umpire is under investigation after illegal betting on this year’s Brownlow Medal, according to News Corp reports.
It says that Victoria Police, working with the AFL, discovered details of voting from specific games had been released.
“It’s alleged that a person with knowledge of the voting tally of these matches distributed the information to a group of people known to them,” a Victoria Police statement said.
“The criminal offences police are investigating are engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency, and using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes. These offences carry up to 10 years’ imprisonment.”
Carlton captain Patrick Cripps won the medal but it is not believed the identity of the winner was known prior to the count.
CRYPTO COLLAPSE IMPACTS SPORT
The unprecedented collapse of crypto exchange FTX will be felt across many domains and sport is no exception.
The company is now investigating whether it was hacked to the tune of A$895 million with Sam Bankman-Fried indeed cooked and filing for bankruptcy.
The platform was valued at US$32 billion in January but that has gone to zero.
Sport’s biggest loser might be Miami Heat who sold naming rights to its home court, ‘FTX Arena’.
It is now threatening legal action to enforce its 19-year US$135m contract.
The International Cricket Council has also been impacted and was still sporting FTX branding late in the T20 World Cup tournament before reviewing its position on Friday ahead of Sunday’s final, won by England.
Mercedes Formula One cars hit the Sao Paulo track without the FTX logos on their cars.
Major League Baseball (which struck a five-year deal with the exchange as its official partner last year), the Golden State Warriors, UC Berkeley, FTX global ambassador Steph Curry, Shohei Ohtani and Tom Brady also appear to have been financially hit by the turn of events.
Brady and Gisele Bündchen had equity stakes in the company that now appear to be worthless.
WORLD CUP IN THE METAVERSE
This FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be the first to link up with Web3 in an attempt to extract even more mileage and dollars out of one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
Web3 is the newest iteration of the World Wide Web encompassing virtual worlds.
It offers new experiences for hardcore fans including interactive games, collectibles and more via the blockchain.
One of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, OKX, is putting up US$3m in prizes including tokens and NFTs.
Fans need to purchase crypto tokens to be able to experience the new technology.
But the ambitious project will be launched in the giant shadow cast by the collapse of crypto exchange FTX along with dwindling interest in NFTs as the year has progressed.
LEEDS TO FALL UNDER 49ERS BANNER
Premier League Leeds United is poised to be wholly bought by 49ers Enterprises, an investment arm of the San Francisco 49ers, for a reported US$558.1 million.
The deal will include Leeds’ home ground Elland Road.
Leeds was purchased in 2017 for US$51.7 million while in the second-tier of English football.
The 49ers began investing in the Whites in 2018, buying a 15 per cent share for a reported US$11.8 million.
They gradually raised their interest in the club whose value appreciated substantially when it was promoted to the Premiership for the 2020-21 season.
But Leeds may need substantial investment to stay in the top flight.
It finished 17th last season and is currently 15th, heading into the World Cup break, just two points clear of the relegation zone.
SPORTS RIGHTS GURU WARNS FANS SET TO PAY MORE
One of the world’s biggest players in digital sports media has told The Big Deal that the world’s seismic shift in sports rights could force the fans to dig deeper into their pockets.
John Kosner, president of New York-based Kosner Media, says the four-decade stranglehold of pay giants the likes of ESPN, TNT and Fox Sports is over.
“Beginning in 2012, pay television subscription began to plateau,” Kosner said.
“They have been shrinking ever since and they are now kind of in freefall.”
Kosner said the pendulum has already swung towards bigger businesses with more capital behind them.
“If you’re a sports TV league now, you have to be thinking beyond just the pay TV companies, beyond just the broadcast networks and so the company that is making the biggest splash outside that recently is Amazon,” he said
“If you have the big entities taking still bigger cheques, there may be less money left for everybody else so I do anticipate some form of ‘reset’ in sports over the next five to 10 years where smaller properties may make less money and there may be less money for the players and teams.”
Kosner warned about who can be expected to pay the difference: “The fans may have to pay more.”
But he says the rise of women’s sport will give them more choice than ever before.
“Women’s sports is really growing, next summer (winter in Australia) there’s going to be the women’s World Cup, and the growth of women’s soccer is really phenomenal.
“It’s not covered much in the US but women’s cricket is also growing, women’s basketball is growing so sports will have to make room for new entries.”
Check out the full interview here:
FAST MONEY FOR FAST CAR
Former world champion Michael Schumacher has sold his Ferrari F2003-GA for more than A$23 million.
The car is the one in which the German won his sixth and penultimate Formula One title in 2003.
It was sold at auction in Switzerland by RM Sotheby’s.
The price tag almost doubles the previous highest price for one of Schumacher’s cars.
His F2001 sold for A$11.7 million in 2017.
The record price for an old Formula One car is A$31.1 million for Juan Fangio’s 1954 Mercedes Benz W196 ‘Silver Arrow’ which was sold in 2013.
RICCIARDO STAYS MUM ON FUTURE
Meanwhile Schumacher’s son Mick and Aussie Daniel Ricciardo are considering reserve driver roles with Mercedes next year.
A return to Red Bull is also a possibility for Ricciardo after he lasted just one lap in Sao Paulo before crashing out and earning a three-place grid drop for his final drive with McLaren in Abu Dhabi.
It has also been speculated he could walk away from F1s and make a switch to V8s.
He has spoken previously of his desire to drive at Bathurst.
But even Ricciardo, while not giving much away, seems to hint he’s not yet ready to turn his back on F1s.
“I don’t want to say no yet to anything. But ideally, I’d get some days in an F1 car as opposed to trying to, let’s say, get a seat somewhere else,” Ricciardo said.
Ricciardo will leave McLaren a year early with a A$15 million payout.
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