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The importance of boosting the connection between clubs and their local businesses

Football clubs across the world have financially suffered over the past two years, through the length of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it was the smaller businesses in these clubs’ catchment areas who were affected even more.

Local businesses are a vital part of the overall football economy across the world, including in Australia, but according to studies local businesses saw their revenues slashed by 20-30% on average.

With stadium gates around the world already reopening or in the process of it, these clubs have the opportunity to not only rebuild their own revenue, but play an important role in boosting their local economies as a whole.

Blackpool-based Eleven Sports Media is rapidly expanding their existing mission to assist in that process.

Over the past 13 years the company has bridged the gap between clubs’ time-starved commercial teams and their local business communities.

Eleven specialise in owning, managing and operating Community Partner programmes for clubs who decide to use their services. Resources are freed up, with the club provided a solution which grows multiple long-lasting partnerships with local businesses.

Over the past year, demand for the company’s deeply held community values, top-class activation expertise and high-tech stadium inventory has surged.

The company’s Stadium, StatTV and StatZone fan-engagement platforms continue to evolve rapidly, with many clubs across the world noticing these improvements.

More than 40 clubs across all the of the UK (many of them being in the Premier League) have partnered with Eleven Sports Media, with the company also recently striking a deal with MLS side New York City FC (NYCFC).

Their growth is a testament to the work they do in helping clubs build strong connections with their local business communities.

“We have been fortunate to work across all tiers of the game and in all regions of the country for many years,” Matt Cairns, founder and CEO of Eleven, told FC Business.

“We know exactly how important the ties between clubs and the businesses around them truly are.

“It’s those businesses that will always be there to support their clubs through the ups and downs, and we understand what those local businesses need for real growth. That’s why we have evolved our model so far beyond simple stadium advertising. From boosting digital audiences through to achieving CSR objectives or creating high-impact experiences, we cover all the bases to make sure those businesses enjoy real returns from of their partnerships with clubs.”

Eleven’s new agreement with the New York club will see them develop new partnerships for local businesses, giving them an unprecedented platform for growth possibilities in the future.

The company’s branding will also be displayed on NYCFC’s academy kits, an investment that Cairns says speaks to Eleven’s commitment both to the MLS club and to the new partners it will engage on their behalf.

“We are the shirt sponsors of over a dozen Academy teams, and it’s great to add NYCFC to that list. Investing in our partner clubs is hugely important to us – it matters to those clubs, and to the local businesses around them. There’s no better way to demonstrate our own values, as well as the rewards that come from meaningfully engaging with clubs in this way,” Cairns stated.

Matt Goodman, Chief Commercial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at NYCFC, believes the club’s partnership with Eleven is an evolution of a community focused ethos that the MLS team has maintained since it was founded.

“We’re a community asset,” he told FC Business.

“Our role is to connect with the community to empower better lives through soccer. We would have said that before the global pandemic, but even more so after it.

“Our responsibility is to help pick the citizens of the city, those businesses, back up.”

Goodman was an influential member in a team that delivered a unique collaboration with Mastercard last year, which extended the club’s commercial and digital marketing expertise to struggling local businesses.

The club has also worked to free up retail room for local challenger drinks brands – another one of the ways it has provided opportunities for small businesses within New York to gain exposure in the marketplace.

“The most exciting part about partnering with Eleven is that shared emphasis on small business and on community,” Goodman said.

“To help those who need help the most. Eleven’s history with global football, coupled with an emphasis on community, is the most unique part of how Eleven operates.

“What the partnership will do is it will give us a much larger platform to be able to speak to more fans and give more small businesses, a bigger platform for success. And that to us is the most important part.”

It’s a similar story in the UK, where Eleven is the shirt sponsor for both Celtic FC Women and the club’s B-team, providing the Scottish giants with an array of technology and partnership solutions.

The club was founded in its community to initially address the issue of poverty, and despite its strong worldwide following, its devotion to its local roots remains strong. Eleven has added many local businesses to Celtic’s network of local partnerships.

“The club was born in the community,” Commercial Director of Celtic FC, Adrian Filby, told FC Business.

“Local businesses are an important part of the community; they employ local people – they are supporters. Our partnerships with Eleven gives them the opportunity to be part of a premium global brand.

“Therefore, we are – in a big way- supporting them and helping them come back through a difficult period.”

“It’s about bringing everybody back to what the club stood for. Without local businesses, without local people employed, there isn’t a local football club.

“We’re all one, so it’s a critical part of the ecosystem for us.”

In finding these innovative ways to connect with local businesses and expand their relationships, with the help of companies like Eleven, clubs are viably supporting their own future – but also that of their local economies.

 

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.

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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