Athletes take even more control of the business


The sports entertainment business is based on the theory of aggregation. The more assets you gather, the higher the value of the rights that are going to be put up for sale. That’s why footballers need clubs, and clubs need competition with rivals. More dates on the calendar, greater radius of action on which to impact the audience… more money. The same thing happens in individual sports, endowed with professional circuits with tournament promoters who give coherence to the calendar and are in charge of paying the athletes. Some athletes who have always been the pillar of this entire industry, but who now also want the key.

In sports like tennis it has historically been like this, and in fact they sit on the ATP board of directors with the same voice as the promoters of the tournament. But money is capable of stressing and dynamiting historical consensus, especially if whoever bursts in is set to put money in spades without a business plan behind it that guarantees its sustainability in the future. And beware, because taking the quick and easy money that comes from the Middle East could be bread for today’s figures and hunger for tomorrow’s if, the day they get tired of putting up money, the current structures have lost all strength.

tight margins

In a few weeks we have seen how Saudi Arabia promises 100 million dollars over five years to the best golfers in the world so that, in theory, they leave the PGA and the European Tour and enroll in the so-called Super Golf League. Something similar happens with paddle tennis, where the international federation and the players have planted the World Padel Tour (WPT) to embrace the project financed by Qatar, which promises up to 525,000 euros in prize money per tournament, more than triple what they get today.

In some cases we may discuss whether the percentage of revenue going to athletes could be higher, especially if the event promoters are already profitable. However, athletes in certain disciplines should be more aware of the reality of many companies that organize this type of event, where they already work with tight margins. Without going any further, the WPT has been providing more money and better services to the circuit, despite the fact that it still closes in losses each season.

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In soccer, the movement is similar among the clubs, which are seeking more influence and a larger share of the pie in their fight with the federations. And beware, we have already warned that the big stars will begin to play the free agent card to distribute money that was previously left in the clubs.

Relevent, from a secondary actor in the Super League to a member of the Champions League

No one doubts anymore that Relevent is one of the first companies to call when it comes to soccer and America. The agency created a brand and earned the loyalty of the great European powers by organizing summer tours that turned the traditional pre-season into gold. He never hid that he had ambitions for something more, and the Football Leaks papers showed that he was one of the brains of the Super League in the shadows. Little or nothing is known now about whether this initiative will go ahead, but it seems clear that the American company will no longer take part in this adventure if it is done behind Uefa’s back. And the reason is none other than from 2023-2024 and until 2026-2027 it will be the agency of the Champions League in North America, with the promise of guaranteeing a minimum of 250 million dollars per season, twice as much as until now. A good jump in income, but almost also an insurance of stability on the competitive map for the next few years, which, de facto, casts doubt on the creation of a closed league at European level in the short term.


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