SBC’s On The Ball – Wembley, Eleven Sports and AC Milan

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 takes a closer look at why the sale of Wembley stadium fell apart, as well as a tough financial year for one of Italy’s biggest clubs.

Khan withdraws Wembley interest 

The £600m sale of Wembley stadium has been called off, after touted new owner, Shahid Khan surprisingly withdrew his interest in buying the stadium.

In spite of much opposition, the FA had all but approved the sale of the stadium, to the Fulham and Jacksonville Jaguars owner, however after deeming his bid had become too ‘divisive’, this week, Khan pulled out of buying the stadium.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, FA chief executive Martin Glenn, who had previously been in favour of pushing through the sale, revealed there weren’t any plans to halt the sale.

“You can’t generalise about 127 individuals, “The voting of the FA Council is stacked in favour of the amateur game, but the professional game has a golden share, so it can block anything it doesn’t like.

“When you look at the CEOs of the FA counties, they were in favour of the deal.

“The more senior chairmen might be more sceptical, but there was nothing concerted about it. There was no plot, but what you have is a conservative group of people wary of change.”

Khan has not ruled out the possibility of looking to buy Wembley in the future, should the overall stance of the FA change.

Eleven Sports backs down in blackout dispute 

Online sports broadcaster, Eleven Sports has backed down in its bid to show live football between, 2.45pm and 5.15pm.

Previously, the firm had publicly opposed the FA’s rule that implements a blackout on broadcasting football on a saturday afternoon.

Issuing a statement, Eleven Sports outlined: “Out of respect for the wishes of our partners, we will for the time being no longer show matches during the Saturday afternoon blackout period.

“Fans in the UK should have the freedom and the choice to watch these games legally through the official rights holder, as they do all over the world. Regrettably, intense pressure from stakeholders within the football establishment means that football fans across the country do not have this option.”

“We maintain our strong view that the rule is unfit for the modern, digital era – particularly for overseas games which we hold the rights to. With the best interests of football fans at heart, we are currently considering all legal and regulatory options, including the referral of the case to the appropriate authorities.”

La Liga, also commented on the debate, with Eleven Sports previously opting to broadcast a match between between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao during the blackout: “We continue to believe that the blackout is outdated. Eleven Sports is taking the right steps to challenge the blackout and we support them.”

On the other hand, the chief executive of the EFL, Shaun Harvey, said the blackout remained crucial. “The origins of Article 48 were to protect the interests of the game in this country as a whole, you can’t be half in or half out.

“The 3pm protection when Premier League and Football League games are being played is absolutely vital.”

AC Milan report record losses

A tough financial year for AC Milan was confirmed as the Serie A side reported losses of €126m, for the last financial year.

It follows a period of uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the club, after previous owner, Li Yonghong missed payments to secure his takeover of the club from Silvio Berlusconi. Since then, Elliott Management has taken over the club, and seemingly steadied the ship.

It means that the club’s overall losses for the last 14 years are in excess of €730m, with the club, last Summer investing €200m in the squad, however not seeing positive results on the pitch.

Last Summer, The Rossoneri’s financial fair play punishments were overturned with the club being reinstated to the Europa League for this season.

Manchester City go cashless with tappit partnership

Manchester City has announced a new partnership in the UK and Asia Pacific with tappit, a solution that provides cashless experiences at events.

The deal will explore the use of this technology at club events across the world, including global live screenings and mass participation events.

The partnership acts as an affirmation of City’s commitment to digital innovation, with the technology enabling fans to have a better experience at an event via easy-to-use cashless payment methods. Insights generated by the technology also provide the Club with the opportunity for continuous development based on fan usage.

Manchester City will work with tappit to offer a variety of added-value features for fans, with tappit’s worldwide footprint meaning the Club’s global fanbase will also benefit from this new partnership during live experiences throughout the season.

Damian Willoughby, Senior Vice President of Partnerships at City Football Group, commented: “Manchester City is excited to be entering this partnership with tappit, whose cashless technology has proven popular at many live events. The partnership comes at a time where football and technology are more closely linked than ever before – working with tappit will certainly help us utilise this.

“We want our fans to enjoy interacting with the Club when attending one of our many live events around the world and we hope this partnership will give our fans some great new experiences.”