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Sport Republic acquires stake in Southampton FC

Sport Republic – backed by billionaire Serbian businessman Dragan Solak – have acquired a large stake in the club.

English Premier League club Southampton has confirmed that Sport Republic – backed by billionaire Serbian businessman Dragan Solak – have acquired a large stake in the club.

They have purchased the stakes that were previously owned by Chinese businessman Gao Jisheng, and will work in collaboration with Katharina Liebherr – daughter of Swiss businessman Markus Liebherr – who owns the remaining stake in the club.

Sport Republic are a London-based investment firm for the sports and entertainment industry. They were founded by Henrik Kraft and Rasmus Ankersen and headed by Dragan Solak. Their portfolio includes Tonsser – a football player app that empowers youth players to progress and unlock their potential.

Southampton CEO Martin Semmens:

“Over the last two years, together with the shareholders of our club, we have searched for the right partner to take the club forward. Today we have found the perfect solution,” he said.

“Sport Republic are experienced investors, but also experienced within the world of elite professional sports. That combination is very hard to find, and we are thrilled to have reached an agreement that secures our short and long-term future.

“We are grateful for the support of Mr Gao and Katharina that allowed us to take our time, turn away the wrong options and ultimately find the right partner for the future of this great club, its fans, staff and the people of Southampton.

Sport Republic Lead Investor Dragan Solak:

“My partners and I have experience in long-term investments in the sports and entertainment industry and Sport Republic has been founded to combine this expertise and deliver something unique to the market,” he said.

“Southampton has so many of the qualities we have been looking for in a major sports organisation. It has a great management team, excellent talent development, talented teams playing attractive football and a dedicated fan base. We are delighted to be able to complete this acquisition.”

Sport Republic Chairman Henrik Kraft:

“We will be an active and engaged owner, but we will not be starting any revolutions. We were attracted to Southampton because it is already a well-run club that follows a clearly defined strategy,” he said.

“Whilst Southampton is Sport Republic’s first acquisition, we expect more investments to follow over the coming years. Our ambition is to build a portfolio of high-influence stakes in football clubs and other sporting assets across the world.

“At the same time, we will also invest in early-stage sports technology companies and use our portfolio to accelerate the development of these companies. The acquisition of Southampton is a great first step and we are very excited about the journey ahead.”

Paramount+ secures Premier League deal overseas

A-Leagues broadcaster Paramount+ has secured a three-year deal for English Premier League broadcast rights in Mexico and Central America.

A-Leagues broadcaster Paramount+ has secured a three-year deal for English Premier League rights in Mexico and Central America from the start of the 2022/23 season.

The new partnership will mark the end of pay-TV provider Sky Mexico’s reign as the only Premier League broadcaster in the region.

All 380 English Premier League matches will be streamed live through Paramount+ and ‘PlutoTV’ who is the aggregated streaming platform for Paramount+.

The contract covers Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. It also includes Belize and the Dominican Republic but on a non-exclusive basis.

Paramount+, owned by ViacomCBS, has also secured a Premier League feed for its platforms featuring 24/7 coverage of the competition.

ViacomCBS launched Paramount+ in the US in 2019 with several high-profile soccer rights acquisitions. This included International matches, CONCACAF, UEFA Champions League, as well as top flight football from Italy, Argentina and Brazil.

The Premier League rights deal marks an expansion of operations in Central America ahead of moving into a number of additional territories by 2023, including the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy.

Premier League Chief Executive Officer, Paul Molnar:

“We are very happy that ViacomCBS views the Premier League and our clubs as a vital part of their live sports offering,” he said.

“ViacomCBS platforms, including Paramount+ and Pluto TV, will be an outstanding home for the Premier League and we look forward to working together to showcase the league to new and existing fans throughout Central America and Mexico.”

Paramount+ has already made their mark in Australia, providing live coverage for A-League men’s and women’s competitions for subscribers to the platform.

ViacomCBS President and Chief Executive, Raffaele Annecchino:

“We know audiences around the world are passionate about sports, and especially about football. This partnership with the Premier League brings exclusive content directly to those fans, live for the first time on Paramount+ in Mexico and Central America,” he said.

“Live sports are an important differentiator for our streaming service, and as we’ve seen in the US and Australia, we are confident this will drive subscriber growth as we continue to offer the best mix of entertainment and now – live sports.”

LaLiga celebrates five years of international growth

LaLiga has celebrated five years of it's very own unique international structure that has driven worldwide expansion of the competition.

LaLiga has celebrated five years of it’s very own unique international structure that has driven worldwide expansion of the competition, turning the Spanish league into a world-leading reference for the sports industry.

The LaLiga Global Network program was launched in early January 2017, and is present in 41 different countries, with 44 on-site delegates and another 11 employees working from LaLiga headquarters in Madrid.

The program also has 11 international offices and two joint ventures in North America and China. The international expansion strategy has covered over 90 different countries, boasting an extreme amount of growth throughout a five-year period.

It is a big reason why more and more people around the world are falling in love with LaLiga football.

LaLiga executive director Oscar Mayo:

“Five years ago, we embarked on an ambitious mission to bring the entertainment and emotion of LaLiga to more fans around the world and to help grow football as a sport everywhere,” he said.

“We are very proud that LaLiga and its main protagonists, clubs, players, coaches, are closer today to more people around the world than ever before.

“That said, this is just the beginning, together with clubs and with the support of our new partner CVC, we will give our international efforts a massive boost.”

The internationalisation strategy has had a positive effect in the growth of the community within LaLiga facts across the globe, as the league now possesses 146 million followers.

LaLiga produces plenty of content, however what is unique is that the content is published in over 20 different languages across 17 different social media platforms, allowing discussions about the league to occur in many different places.

Out of all the top five leagues in Europe, LaLiga has the largest following. Even in recent years, the number of international activations organised by LaLiga has doubled, reaching 1,222 across more than 90 countries.

Mayo continued:

“When it comes to football fans outside of Spain, we always say that we would like to be everyone’s second most popular league, after their local league,” he said.

“National leagues are the true engine of football and that’s why LaLiga is sharing the recipe of its own success with leagues, federations and clubs around the world.

“The growing number of commercial partnerships around the world is a sign of the increasing relevance of LaLiga. Our commercial partner are a very important part of LaLiga fan engagement.”

La Liga has had 247% in the value of the competitions’ international audiovisual rights since 2013/14 and a boost to the value of the LaLiga brand.

The numbers confirm that Spanish football has captivated fans all over the world, whilst attesting to the success of the internationalisation process.

“We are on an exciting journey to entertain people around the globe. We will continue to make bold bets to bring Spanish football fans everywhere great entertainment and to introduce our competition to more people everywhere. We are only just getting started,” Mayo said.

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