Insider Sport: On The Ball – Ongoing civil unrest sees Copa moved from Chile

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This week’s OTB reports on the Copa Libertadores move, Eintracht Frankfurt’s digital expansion and Middlesborough’s support of Responsible Gambling Week 2019. 

Chilean unrest sees Copa Libertadores final moved to Peru
Conembol, the governing body for South American football, has announced that this year’s Copa Libertadores final is being moved Peru due to the ongoing civil unrest in the Chilean capital.

The Copa, which is South Americas premier club football competition, was scheduled to take place on 23 November at the Estadio Nacional, however, following violence which has seen 21 deaths and over 5,000 arrests, the match has been moved to Lima’s 80,000-seater stadium, the Estadio Monumental.

A statement released by Conembol read: “After analysing and evaluating new circumstances of force majeure, and considering the security of the players, public and respective delegations, Conmebol has taken the decision to move the final of the 2019 Libertadores to the Estadio Monumental in Lima, Peru, while maintaining the original date of November 23rd.”

This is not the first time when a Copa Libertadores final has had to be moved due to violence, with last season’s second leg bout between historic Argentinian rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors having to be relocated to Madrid following a bus attack suffered by Boca en route to the stadium. 

As well as moving the fixture, this season’s final also marks the first time in the Copa’s 60-year history that the final will be played as a single game at a neutral stadium, with Conembol believing that the changes will make the occasion more lucrative for the competing teams and that it will resemble UEFA’s variant of the competition.

The relocation of the match has been backed by both clubs involved, reigning champions River Plate and Brazilian outfit Flamengo, as well as the football associations of the countries involved. 

Conembol will be hoping to avoid the similar troubles during next season’s edition of the competition as they take the final to Brazil’s national team stadium, the Maracana in Rio De Janeiro.

Eintracht to incorporate digital upgrades as part of stadium expansion
A new digital centre is set to be incorporated into Eintracht Frankfurt’s Commerzbank Arena expansion following an announcement made by the Bundesliga club. 

The plans, which will elevate the club’s matchday commercial capabilities, follow  an agreement with local authorities that sees Eintracht become the stadium’s sole operator until June 2035. As part of that agreement, the stadium will also undergo an expansion which will see the incorporation of a safe standing area and a capacity increase to 60,000.

The football club will assume the right to sublet the stadium for various sporting and entertainment events, whilst also grasping full control of both the catering operation and marketing of commercial rights to the Arena. Moreover, the club is set to pay the city €8 million per year to rent the stadium, with that figure set to be cut by 50% if they the Eintracht suffers relegation.

As well as these upgrades, the club has announced it will establish an ‘Arena of IOT’ (The Internet of Things). The IOT, which refers to digital interaction with the Internet and in the industrial sector, will be used to develop innovations for market use by securing partners across the fields of smart building, facility management, energy management, logistics and mobility.

Eintracht board member Axel Hellmann said: “We are happy to announce that after the agreement with the city about the use of the stadium, we are opening the first chapter on the digitisation of the stadium and at the same time contributing to the strengthening of the stadium digital locations in Hesse.”

The Arena of IOT, which will see state minister for development Professor Kristina Sinemus act as patron, will see Frankfurt become the first Bundesliga outfit to operate an area of ​​IoT within its own structure, with its centre also set to be equipped with its own project, space and personnel resources.

Hellmann concluded: “The stadium is the ideal place to test future-proof digital industrial models for use in the market. At no other place in Hesse do so many people come together regularly for matches or concerts as at the Commerzbank Arena. Industrial digital applications that work in such an environment will also work at all transport hubs if bandwidth is adequate.”

PSG announce record revenue figures following lucrative sponsorship success
Following major sponsorship deals with Accor and Nike, Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has announced a club record €637.8m revenue for the 2018/19 fiscal year.

The eight times French league champions’ latest financial figures highlight a revenue increase of 17.7%, equating to a rise of €96.1m from the 2017/18 revenue results. This is believed to be a byproduct of the two largest sponsorship contracts in the club’s history, with the Accor and Nike deals generating a combined €150m. 

As well as the deals with Accor and Nike, PSG also added 12 new commercial partners in the last fiscal year, with club chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi stating: “The PSG brand continues its rise, building on an attractiveness that has never reached such a peak, especially with major international brands.”

In addition to the sponsorship deal, the Parisian club also raised €115m through matchday revenues which includes ticketing and hospitality. In fact, the club’s midweek fixture versus Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League was reportedly its 60th consecutive sell-out home fixture. 

As well as the revenue produced during match-day, the Paris based outfit also saw a 9.2% rise in merchandise sales to €60.4m, with the club’s collaboration with the Jordan Brand expected to have contributed to the rise. PSG also saw a total of €156m generated through its Television rights. 

As a result of this rise in total revenue, PSG now boasts the highest figures of any football club within France, however, this pole position is not mirrored when compared to the rest of the continent as the club still trails behind European giants such as FC Barcelona, who generated €990 million during the 2018/19 season, and Manchester United, who generated €726.1m.

MLS cup draws in record ESPN audience ahead of final
ESPN has revealed that an average of 388,000 viewers tuned into its coverage of the Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup play-offs, its highest TV audience for the tournament since 2012.

The announcement marks a 36% increase in viewers from 286,000 during last season’s Cup conference semifinals coverage and also sees the broadcaster register its highest figures since David Beckham’s farewell MLS Cup Final victory in 2012. 

Moreover, figures were also released regarding the Western Conference Final between Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC which saw a seven per cent increase when compared to the same fixture last season, rising from 363,000 to 389,000. 

As well as drawing in high ratings for ESPN’s main broadcasting channels, the Western Conference Final also saw ESPN Deportes, the broadcaster’s spanish coverage provider, receive its highest viewing figures ever for an MLS conference final match with an audience 272,000 – the match also double as Deportes’ second most viewed overall MLS match, trailing behind the LAFC vs. LA Galaxy 24 October contest which drew in a viewership of 375,000.

This is the latest positive broadcasting news to come out of ESPN, following on from the announcement earlier in the week that saw the broadcaster confirm a partnership extension with Formula 1

The renewed deal with F1 coincides with a 19% viewership increase within the United States that has seen the sports average viewing figures rise from 561,000 per race to 671,000 in a year.

Responsible Gambling Week 2019 receives Middlesbrough FC backing
Middlesbrough football club of the English Football League (EFL) Championship has thrown its support behind 2019’s Responsible Gambling Week.

The collaboration will see the club promote the initiative, which is seeking to trigger a national conversation about what it means to gamble responsibly.

Responsible Gambling Week 2019, which takes place from 7 November to 13 November with the hashtag #RGWeek19, will now benefit for the support of Boro as the club is set to publish information regarding the campaign on its club website and social channels.

Led by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling, comprised of all the gambling trade associations, and in Ireland by the Irish Bookmakers Association, Responsible Gambling Week 2019, is part of the industry’s year-round commitment to promote safer gambling.

John Hagan, chairman of the IGRG, commented: “We are delighted that Boro will be supporting Responsible Gambling Week. We want to take the message about safer gambling even further this year, and are confident this will be our biggest campaign yet.

“The continued engagement and support of football clubs is enormously helpful in highlighting the week, and triggering a national conversation about what it means to gamble responsibly throughout the year.”

#RGWeek19 is set to see over 120,000 staff at thousands of gambling venues and online sites take part and will also mark the second consecutive year that clubs from the Premier League and EFL take part.

This supporting role will see the EFL dedicate advertising space in match-day programmes, on big screens and across social channels throughout the week, with league sponsor SkyBet also supporting the campaign.

With the objective of #RGWeek19 being to trigger a national conversation about safer gambling by highlighting the tools, advice and help available to customers as well as the initiatives being taken by operators to promote social responsibility, Boro, along with every other campaign supporter, will be detailing the five key responsible gambling behaviours:

  • Only spend what you can afford.
  • Set your limits for time and money.
  • Gambling is not the answer to any problem.
  • Gambling when angry or upset is not a good idea.
  • Gambling shouldn’t interfere with your personal relationships

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