Amazon secure Champions League rights for the UK in $2.6bn deal

Amazon has secured the UK broadcast rights for the UEFA Champions League in a deal worth UK£1.5 billion ($2.6 billion AUD).

Through a split coverage deal with Pay-TV network BT Sport – UEFA’s existing broadcast partner – Amazon will have first pick of matches on a Tuesday night through to the semi-finals. BT will retain the rest of the rights to the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League. The new pact will cover European football’s club competitions for the 2024 to 2027 rights cycle.

BT Sport has aired the Champions League since 2015, after snatching the rights from Sky Sports and ITV in a three-year deal worth UK£299 million ($529 million AUD). BT Sport renewed its contract for European club soccer’s premier competition from 2021 to 2024 for $1.7 billion AUD.

For its new deals, UEFA has opted to abandon exclusivity for rights from 2024/25 due to the increased number of matches in the Champions League when the tournament’s group stage rises from 32 to 36 teams.

UK public service broadcaster the BBC will also air highlights of European football’s top club competition for the first time, with a Wednesday night Match of the Day to round up the Champions League action.

For Amazon, securing the Champions League rights for its Prime Video streaming service is its biggest move in the UK sports market since its landmark deal in 2018 for select rounds of Premier League matches, breaking BT Sport and Sky Sports’ stranglehold on English football’s top flight.

Amazon Prime Video already broadcasts the Champions League in Germany, where it secured a deal worth around €90 million ($137 million AUD) a year back in December 2019. That deal runs from 2021 to 2024.

The total broadcast and media revenue from the 2024 to 2027 cycle is projected to reach $7.6 billion AUD per season, a big increase on the current $5.2 billion AUD UEFA currently brings in annually for its club competitions.

Discussions are ongoing between UEFA, the ECA and the European Leagues group over how that revenue will be divided up.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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