Hyundai Gone as Major A-League Sponsor?

In a report from the Sydney Morning Herald, the FFA is set to lose one of its longest-serving sponsors in June.

Hyundai has been the A-League’s major sponsor since the very beginning in 2004. Should they cease sponsorship of the A-League, it would be the end of an era.

According to the report from SMH, Hyundai’s main reasoning is that they feel the interest in the A-League is steadily declining combined with poor revenue in their own market.

Hyundai is also reportedly still at odds with the FFA regarding the unceremonious sacking of former Matildas’ coach Alen Stajcic. Stajcic’s dumping still leaves a sour taste in many people’s mouths, even Hyundai.

Should Hyundai can its sponsorship with the A-League, it will unfortunately join a number of other former sponsors who, in recent times also decided to walk out the door on their partnerships.

“Conversations are currently ongoing between Hyundai and Football Federation Australia around Hyundai’s naming rights partnership with the game,” said Bill Thomas, Hyundai’s Director of Marketing.

“Currently we are not in a position to go into detail about these discussions but we will be announcing our plans at the appropriate time.”

Hypothetically, if Hyundai were no longer sponsors for the A-League, what would happen?

The A-League wouldn’t be the first major competition in Australia to not have title partners. The NPL competitions across the country have used sponsors in recent times such as PS4, but do not have one at the time of writing this.

Perhaps the most well-known competition in Australia without a title partner is the FFA Cup.

Back in 2017, Westfield, who were the major sponsors for the knockout tournament since its formation in 2014, decided to withdraw their sponsorship of the Cup.

The Cup has run well without major sponsorship in the two and a half years since Westfield departed, but could the A-League enjoy such success without a title partner like Hyundai?

The report from SMH says that the deal isn’t completely dead in the water, but that any talks to further the sponsorship are suggesting any deal won’t run past 2021 anyway.

The FFA, by convincing Hyundai to stay on for one extra year, is likely looking to bide some time whilst they find another title partner.

Hyundai also covers the W-League, which would mean any sponsorship withdrawal from the South Korean manufacturer would have a significant impact on the women’s game too.

The writing seems to be on the wall for the FFA and this deal, despite the potential for Hyundai to stay on for one more year.

Sponsors can come and go in the sporting industry. We see it all the time with sporting brands such as Adidas, Puma and Nike. Premier League club Arsenal used Adidas during their early Premier League days before moving to Puma.

Now, they’re back with Adidas. So companies don’t seem to mind where they sponsor, so long as they get paid well for it.

Hyundai’s relationship with the FFA and the A-League however was about more than money.

It will be fascinating to see who jumps on as the next title partner for the A-League whenever Hyundai decide that their time is up.

From all of us here at Soccerscene, we thank the South Korean car manufacturer for all their support since 2004 because arguably, the league wouldn’t be where it is today without them.

Whoever steps up in their place will not have just a great chance to make waves in the industry, but there will also be a lot of pressure to reach the same level Hyundai got to.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Are you happy for a fresh start without Hyundai? Or are you sad to see them go after nearly 16 years of incredible support?

Get involved in the conversation on Twitter @Soccersceneau

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Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

777 Partners seeking completion of Everton deal

American firm 777 Partners are nearing the completion of their takeover at Everton after a long seven-month process is heading towards its conclusion.

As reported by TEAMtalk, 777 sources have confirmed that they have now passed the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors Test on the basis that they pay back an outstanding loan to MSP Sports Capital.

The firm are not expecting an imminent announcement from the Premier League but as mentioned, are confident that the takeover will be finalised around May time, ready for the all-important summer window.

However, Everton are keeping their options open and are actively looking at backup options in case this deal falters at the last minute. It remains a real interesting story that has mixed reports and an air of  scepticism about it.

MSP and two Liverpool-based businessmen Andy Bell and George Downing loaned Everton £158m ($303m AUD) which was due to be returned on Monday this week.

A short-term extension of the loan – taken out by majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri but which 777 have to pay if their takeover is to proceed – has been agreed in principle.

777 have stakes in many other clubs around Europe and the world including Hertha Berlin, Genoa, Standard Liege and A-League giant Melbourne Victory.

There is little doubt that there are mixed results regarding the clubs they takeover with a few angry protests and controversies shining the light on a potential shaky move that Everton couldn’t afford to go wayward.

At German side Hertha Berlin, they say that they ‘don’t have as much control as they would like’ and ‘haven’t been able to make the changes they would like there’, hindered by the German rules on ownership.

After the German side’s relegation last season from the Bundesliga and slow start to life in the 2. Bundesliga this season, there were many fan protests and banners attacking 777 owner Josh Wander however the cub have managed to steer the ship this season and sit in 7th place with four games remaining.

777 believe that they have done a good job with Italian club Genoa, however, who were promoted back into the Serie A last season under their stewardship.

They managed to improve finances, particularly through smart transfers like buying Radu Dragusin for £4.3m ($8.25m AUD) and selling him on to Tottenham just a year later for a huge fee of £26.7m ($51.25m AUD).

777 have missed payments on occasion at Standard Liege, but they have since been paid. They claim that they are battling against the financial mismanagement of previous owners and have lifted the carpet at the Belgian side to find many skeletons.

For Everton, after two points deductions that added up to eight points, the key for this move to run smoothly is to remain a top flight club in 2024/25 which they are in a fantastic position to do so after a controversial 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on the weekend.

Everton will ‘not be a closed shop’ once they take control of the club and they aim to build their income and sustainability in the years.

It also leaves an interesting discussion as to Everton’s transfer strategy following their strict FFP rules that can’t be broken again.

The firm, led by CEO Josh Wander, intend to back the Toffees’ sporting director Kevin Thelwell and are hoping to strengthen the side this summer.

They do concede that the sale of key players such as Amadou Onana, Jarrad Branthwaite and Jordan Pickford may be required to balance the books, however.

777 claim they will do everything they can to avoid a third points deduction which would be placed on the club in 2024/25.

They also say that they will put a big focus on improving the Merseyside club’s academy, insisting that it will be utilised “correctly” and hope to have more homegrown talent break into the first team.

With the new stadium built and ready to go in 2025/26, the revenue streams will improve and there is a tiny light at the end of the tunnel, as long as the Toffees can continue to do their job on the pitch and secure the Premier League broadcasting money that is required to pay off loans and debt.

Despite the very loud outside noise and criticism, 777 remain calm about the debt being paid off before the deadline and the deal will be finalised.

777’s history and mixed results at other clubs leave this one in the air, and despite fans not wanting this move to occur, it could be one that saves Everton from a worst case scenario of administration after years of financial hardship.

A-Leagues secure last minute NEP deal for production partner

The A-Leagues have had an interesting past week, to say the least – as the league’s production partner for live broadcasts, Global Advance, was placed into voluntary administration.

This past weekend, the league managed to secure a last minute deal with international broadcasting and media services group NEP who will cover the remainder of the 2024 season.

The league just got the deal done in time, hours before Central Coast Mariners played Western United in an A-League Women clash and they were able to avoid an embarrassing Easter Thursday blackout.

The A-Leagues currently are understood to pay $12 million to Global Advance for production of all men’s and women’s games, the league is hoping to recuperate close to $1 million from Global Advance but it may be difficult.

Global Advance was established in 2020, its first major partner was the A-Leagues following the competitions’ split from long-term broadcaster Fox Sports.

Until they were placed onto voluntary administration, they had broadcasted every Men’s and Women’s match on Network Ten and its streaming partner Paramount.

The APL released a damning statement last Wednesday night that outlined the lack of communication from Global Advance regarding their financial situation.

“We are disappointed in the manner in which this has come to our attention, and the risk this has placed on our fan, player, club, broadcast and commercial commitments,” the APL said in a statement.

“We have been let down and will be working with the administrators to recoup monies owing to APL.

“Through a lot of hard work by a new production company, Ten-Paramount, and our team, we are close to finalising an agreement and are confident all matches will be broadcast, starting tomorrow.

“There are many challenges that such a short timeframe presents, but we are working through this urgently with all of our stakeholders, and we thank the production company for their co-operation, flexibility and expertise at such short notice.”

However, Said Jahani of Global Advance’s administrators Grant Thornton reiterated that there was immediate contact with the A-Leagues.

“We have immediately commenced a dialogue with the Australian Professional Leagues at the most senior levels to determine whether television coverage for all A-League men’s and women’s games this weekend can continue to be provided. he said in a statement

“At this stage, it remains uncertain as to whether this will be possible.”

It hasn’t quite been all smooth sailing to kick off the NEP era of broadcasting, with the cameraman being the butt of all jokes online after showing his phone notes to direct a message towards his director in the huge game between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in the Liberty A-League that had title implications for the Sky Blues.

It will be interesting to see how the APL can salvage this streaming mishap and produce some quality broadcasts as the finals approach for both competitions.

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