Future of the sports industry discussed at LALIGA Extra Time event


The first edition of ‘LALIGA Extra Time’ was recently held in Melbourne at the end of last month.

The event, organised by LALIGA, looked to bring together experts from the sports and entertainment industry in a two-panel format. It also served to introduce the new identity of LALIGA.

The LALIGA Extra Time event included the participation of Villarreal CF, EA Sports, Optus Sport and Matildas international footballer Elise Kellond-Knight.

“We are proud to have been able to publicly present here in Melbourne LALIGA’s revolutionary new identity to the biggest players in the country’s sports and entertainment industry. For us it is not just a change of symbol, but the symbol of change: with a new partner like EA SPORTS, with a profound transformation in the strategy, positioning, business, technology and audio-visual broadcasts… As we all have been able to enjoy during the first exciting matchdays of LALIGA EA SPORTS and LALIGA Hypermotion in the season 2023/24 that recently started,” stated Glen Rolls via media release, LALIGA delegate for Australia and New Zealand.

The first panel focused on the digital transformation of football, and how partners, broadcasters and rights holders are working collaboratively to the grow the sport across the world.

Theresa Bray, EA Sports’ Head of Marketing and Communication ANZ & Emerging Markets, and Aaron Lea, Associate Director of Digital Media & Platforms at Optus Sport were involved in the panel discussion. Bray expanded on the recent partnership between LALIGA and EA Sports, as well as the ever-changing viewing habits of the younger generation. She claimed that the partnership between the two companies was exciting for EA Sports, as it brings together two global brands that have a strong focus on innovation and authenticity.

Lea explained that Optus Sport, who broadcasts LALIGA in Australia, have focused heavily on displaying the competitions across the company’s digital and social platforms in an effort to find new and increased audiences.

“LALIGA content is playing a key role in our shortform digital video strategy, and we’ve seen strong viral engagement across YouTube Shorts, Tiktok and Instagram Reels,” Lea added via media release.

The second panel focused on the future of football and the vital importance of having a well-constructed foundation in grassroots football, in order to be successful at the elite levels of the sport.

LALIGA clubs are well aware of this notion, as within the competition itself it gave the most playing time to youth players out of the top five major European leagues this past season (this equated to 17.2% of the minutes in 2022/23, according to a CIES study).

One of the LALIGA clubs with the best youth development structures across the world is Villarreal CF. In 2021, they became Europa League champions – becoming the smallest city ever to win a European trophy. The club have a strong presence within Australia, with Nano Márquez, Villarreal’s International Academies Coordinator, attesting to this.

“Australia is a very important market for Villarreal CF as we have three academies in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane all of which focus on the development and growth of the players with the hope that this contributes to the local football ecosystem as well as opening up possibilities in Spain,” he said.

The future of the women’s game was also discussed heavily through this panel section. The success of the recent World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, where Spain beat England in the final in Sydney, was huge boost to the women’s game.

Australian international player Elise Kellond-Knight shared her experiences and expectations for the future during the event.

“The Women’s World Cup was incredible as it brought everyone together here in Australia to cheer on the Matildas and celebrate football. Spanish football has always been very technical and skilful and perhaps lack what we talk about in Australia to be ‘physical’,” she said.

“However, in the World Cup we saw a very complete Spanish team with not only the skills and technical ability, but also the physicality with the likes of Salma Paralluelo, who in my opinion played a decisive role in helping Spain lift the trophy.”

This first edition of LALIGA Extra Time event in Melbourne also featured the trophy of the “LALIGA EA SPORTS” champions and the 2023/24 Puma LALIGA ball.

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.

Newcastle Jets secure A-League future with new owners confirmed

Newcastle Jets have confirmed Maverick Sports Partners as the Club’s new owners. This ownership, subject to final approval from the APL and Football Australia, will launch a “new era” for the Jets under MSP ownership.

This massive announcement comes not long after Australian Professional Leagues chairman Stephen Conroy failed to guarantee Newcastle’s future only three months ago.

The statement said that Maverick Sports Partners have confirmed an agreement to acquire the Newcastle Jets Football Club and are now deeply focused on implementing their plans to bring long term stability and success to this Club.

The Group lead by experienced sports administrator Maurice Bisetto who played a major part in the establishment of Western United FC in the A-Leagues.

Maverick Sports Group is an Australian sports consortium based out of Wetherhill Park in Sydney’s South-West.

Newcastle Jets CEO Shane Mattiske confirmed the significant news.

“Today is a hugely significant day for this Club and this community, as we confirm Maverick Sports Partners as the new owners of the Jets,” said Mattiske in a club statement.

“Over the last three years, we have built a strong foundation for the future of this football club, and it is exciting to be beginning a new era with incoming owners who believe in the opportunity that exists with this Club, with this community and with football as a whole.

“Throughout our process, Maurice Bisetto, the consortium representative, and his partners have demonstrated a deep understanding of football and how to bring success. They also understand this community and their plans are very much aligned with the work that is already underway. I know the Group will bring positive new thinking, new connections and a wealth of experience that will drive the growth of this Club moving forward.

“With this transition to a permanent ownership structure, it is important to acknowledge the support that the outgoing ownership group has provided to the Club over the last three and a half years. These owners believed in the importance of this Club to this community and to the A-Leagues’ competition as a whole.

“They have played a hugely significant role in the history of this Club and on behalf of all fans and stakeholders of the Jets I want to acknowledge the commitment and contribution they have made to us all. Their huge support of this Club will forever be remembered.”

Maverick Sports Partners Director Maurice Bisetto is determined to connect with the Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Northern NSW Community.

“We believe in this Club, the A-Leagues and its players and we’re determined to build success for the Jets and this region,” said Bisetto in a statement.

“We have been impressed by the strength of football here in this region. We know there is a strong historical fanbase and a strong participation base here and we want to bring all of these people together for our Men’s and Women’s games.

“Our team at Maverick Sports Partners are absolutely committed to, and very excited, about the opportunity that exists here at the Newcastle Jets. We see this as the beginning of a new era for the Newcastle Jets and look forward to building a truly great Club with the support of this community.”

This news is huge for the league and the Jets financially, with the club no longer being a financial responsibility for the four other A-League clubs that funded them (Sydney FC, Western Sydney, Western United and Wellington Phoenix).

The Jets can easily recruit players and rebuild to become a stronger unit on the field whilst securing stability off it, and the foundation A-League club with a healthy fanbase and great location can continue to exist.

Iconic Lambert Park re-opens after $2m refurbishment

Lambert Park, home of the APIA Leichardt Football Club, officially re-opened on the weekend after a successful $2m refurbishment.

The extensive investment for the iconic local club includes:

– Replacement of the all-weather playing surface

– Improved drainage

– New concrete edge, stairs and fencing around the perimeter

– Improved access with a new ramp to allow access on the field

The ground is gradually improving to become one of the premier NPL surfaces in the country and this is another one of many recent upgrades helped by the commitment of the Inner West Council.

Currently the ground has two main stands on either side of the playing surface. In the southern stands, there are dressing room facilities, a social club with views of the game, press facilities and media facilities.

On Sunday, the new look Lambert Park was the home for the APIA Leichardt vs Gladesville Ravens NPL Women’s game, and the day was spent in celebration of the refurbishment, as the club organised an event.

The event included an official ceremony by Inner West Council pre-game, free ice cream and activations which drew a decent crowd to the game.

APIA posted an update regarding Sunday’s re-opening.

“Lambert Park was filled with Maroon and Blue as over 400 predominantly female footballers celebrated the $2 million Lambert Park upgrade,” APIA confirmed on their social media accounts.

“The day was filled with some fantastic football and some great activations and enjoyed by all.

“The clubs would also like to thank local clubs Balmain & District Football Club, Leichardt Saints and opponents on the day Gladesville Ravens Women’s NPL football for supporting the day.

“It was a special day for football in our community.”

Lambert Park is an iconic ground that has seen some of Australia’s best names start their careers there since it was first used in 1954.

APIA Leichardt Football Club has produced more Matildas and Socceroos than any other club in Australian history.

The ground gets another much deserved upgrade and will continue to host NPL NSW matches across all age groups in both men’s and women’s competitions.

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