Fox Sports staff cuts reinforce football is not a high priority

On Wednesday, Foxtel announced a host of cuts to its Fox Sports News division.

Of the expected 20 or so staff to lose their jobs, football reporters Daniel Garb and Carly Adno have confirmed their departures from the company.

Head of Fox Sports, Peter Campbell, told staff in a letter that the decision was based on a thorough review.

“Following a careful and considered review, we have today announced some changes to the programming of FOX SPORTS News which reduces the number of live news hours through the middle of weekdays and which unfortunately have resulted in a number of redundancies within the Australian News Channel (ANC) team that delivers FOX SPORTS News.

“Our customer audience analysis shows viewing of FOX SPORTS News now peaks in the morning and evening and on weekends, with low daytime viewership. Therefore we are going to focus on delivering live sports news and the channel’s marquee programs, including AFL Tonight, NRL Tonight and Cricket AM, during those peak periods.

“This decision is not about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on sport. It simply reflects viewers are consuming sports news in different ways and at different times together with the same challenging conditions in the advertising market that are impacting the entire entertainment industry.”

The company wants to focus their energy on morning sports bulletins and evening shows, which will also perform better on their on-demand streaming service Kayo Sports.

Campbell’s comments reiterate the idea that the AFL, NRL and Cricket are their marquee offerings, therefore it is in their best interests to improve their associated programming for these sports.

On the football side of things, the axing of Garb and Adno is a huge blow to the sport’s presence on the Fox Sports network.

Garb, in particular, has been a prominent footballing voice on Fox Sports News as well as the host of the weekly Fox Football Podcast.

The podcast itself has become more important in recent times, due to the lack of magazine shows on Fox Sports for the A-League.

Magazine shows such as Sunday Shootout and Just for Kicks were all axed by Fox in recent years.

The job cuts come after the news the A-League will play on and try to finish the season, even though there are concerns around the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, there is a possibility Fox Sports will look to get out of the TV deal they signed with the A-League in late 2016, if the competition was abandoned this season.

If the A-League fails to meet its obligations this season, it could give Fox Sports the opportunity to move its way out of a deal they are currently unhappy with due to the leagues declining ratings.

A-League decision makers plan to condense the season into a shorter timeframe, with the hope of finishing by mid-April.

PFA CEO John Didiluca told SMH: “As it stands now we have no certainty about what Fox will do in the event of the league having to be shut down – whether they choose to withhold funding or terminate the agreement.”

“All of these things are options and we just don’t have an answer about what that will be.

“The players are showing their commitment and good faith by putting their hands up and continuing to play. The nature of their choice is awful, effectively having to weigh up risks to their personal and public health on one hand with the knowledge the football economy could collapse on the other.

“Fox have helped us build our competitions from day one and we now need them stick with us more than ever. We are urging them to match the resilience and commitment that the players and the clubs are showing. This will give everybody within the football community some measure of certainty that the sport has a strong future.”

Although Fox may not be satisfied with their current deal with the A-League, outside of the NRL and AFL there is not a whole of sport to broadcast at the moment.

The A-League would have received pressure from Fox to continue the season, even though there is uncertainty Fox will continue broadcasting the competition in the future.

Fox seems to be using the A-League to boost its current lack of sport offerings on Kayo Sports, despite recently sacking one of its most influential voices.

Football is not a priority for the company at this stage, but rather a pawn they can easily influence in these uncertain times.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Acun Medya Group secures Hull City takeover

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, headed by Acun Ilicali.

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, for a fee in the reported region of $37 million AUD.

Acun Ilicali, a 52-year-old businessman and owner of Acun Medya Group, was introduced to fans at the MKM Stadium prior to the club’s 2-0 win at home over Blackburn Rovers.

The takeover brings the controversial ownership of the Allam family to an end, much to the delight of fans after a roller coaster 11 years in charge.

Despite overseeing two promotions to the Premier League, an FA Cup Final and Hull’s first-ever foray into a European competition through the UEFA Europa League in 2014, the Allam family became increasingly unpopular with the fans.

The unpopularity of the Allam family is due to many different reasons, however it all started when the family proposed a name change to ‘Hull Tigers’ back in 2013. The move was ultimately blocked by authorities a year later, which frustrated the Allams and they then put the club up for sale, straining the relationship with fans and seeing a decline in attendances at home fixtures.

The new ownership will look to win back supporters and turn the negative tide.

Acun Medya Group Owner, Acun Ilicali:

“I am happy that I have fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City. We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans,” he said.

Outgoing Vice-Chairman Ehab Allam:

“During our tenure, we have worked hard to create a sustainable model and successful academy set-up, giving the club the foundations it needs for the future,” he said.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the last 11 years or so, but we will take some very fond memories with us… We have taken a very business-led approach to running the club and I truly hope Acun can rebuild the relationship with the fanbase and also bring back the success on the pitch that fans crave and deserve.”

Hertha Berlin pushing hard for stadium upgrade

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to the Olympiastadion.

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to its current home, the Olympiastadion, releasing fresh renderings of its vision for such a project.

The club has been attempting to progress plans to develop a new home for several years and in February 2020 stated that the OlympiaPark would be the preferred location.

In November 2018, Hertha confirmed it was targeting an opening date in July 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with preference to be building a completely new stadium rather than renovating the current one.

The current Olympiastadion has been home to Hertha Berlin for almost 60 years, and has a capacity of around 74,000. However, the club is seeking a more intimate stadium for its fans, as well as the inclusion of an athletics track.

Hertha’s former stadium commissioner, Klaus Teichert, withdrew an application for a decision to be made on the location for a new stadium, with Brandenburg also put forward as a potential location.

Hertha Berlin Chief Financial Officer, Ingo Schiller:

“We have entered into talks with the new government and are working hard to set the course for our new stadium in 2022,” he said.

“The stadium is the club’s most important project, especially in terms of the economic situation.”

There is a lot of political support necessary for the project to get approved, as the potential worksite currently includes residential apartments, a big reason for negotiations coming to a stall at times.

A resident spoke to local radio station rbb24:

“You talk about ir, but not with us. We are still not prepared to sell our apartments in Sportforumstraße or to negotiate about them,” they said.

“It is very unfortunate that our residents in Sportforumstraße are once again unsettled by this uncoordinated approach.”

Hertha Berlin and backers of the new stadium have been in negotiation with Berlin’s sports senator, Iris Spranger, with talks to continue over the next month.

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