Soccer and the economy; Saturday's (10/18) prediction

On a slow Saturday, here is an interesting soccer story for you….

GENEVA (AP) ” If one sport can survive the global financial
crisis, it’s the world’s favorite game: soccer.
Yes, individual clubs will certainly suffer ” some losing
sponsors or investors and perhaps players who become too
pricey. But cash flowing into the top end of the market,
from television deals and multinational backers, is unlikely
to dry up.
If anything, soccer at its highest level is poised to become
an even stronger TV draw in hard times when people want
cheap entertainment.
Look at the numbers.
The 2010 World Cup is already sold, and FIFA expects to bank
$3.2 billion before kickoff.
UEFA earned a net profit approaching $400 million from this
year’s European Championship, and the Champions League will
pull in $1.115 billion this season.
Also, television deals for the 2009-12 Champions League
seasons are already done in the main markets, where prices
are reportedly up 10 percent, and rights to show the English
Premier League ” where huge revenues help explain overseas
interest in
clubs ” will soon be sold for the 2010-13 seasons.
Industry experts believe the domestic deal for Britain will
beat the current 3-year cost of $2.94 billion paid by
subscription broadcasters Sky and Setanta. Global television
and new media rights will earn English league clubs another
$1.73 billion
in that time.
Philipp Grothe has traded football media rights for two
decades. Last week, his Swiss-based Kentaro agency struck a
six-year deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation to distribute
national team matches.
He believes that when money is tight, football is a reliable
commodity.
“Only the big live events in sport, i.e. football, generate
the mass audience,” Grothe said in a telephone interview
with The Associated Press. “They are the ones delivering to
sponsors and broadcasters the big audience numbers.”
The World Cup is one of the globe’s most-watched sporting
events, and FIFA claims the 2006 tournament in Germany had
an accumulated television audience of 26.3 billion viewers
on 376 different channels.
FIFA, which relies on the World Cup for 90 percent of its
revenue, has budgeted to get $3.2 billion from television
and marketing rights to the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
“FIFA believes that this is a realistic forecast,” FIFA
spokesman Pekka Odriozola said in an e-mail. “Certain
contracts are secured with bank guarantees. All TV partners
have fulfilled their contractual obligations.”
The Zurich-based body has six commercial partners for the
World Cup. One, Coca-Cola, is signed until 2022. The
Emirates airline paid $195 million to sign through the 2014
tournament in Brazil.
UEFA, which declined to discuss marketing strategy, had
revenue of roughly $2 billion for its three-week tournament
in Austria and Switzerland, but has not started selling Euro
2012, scheduled for Poland and Ukraine.
UEFA’s club football commitments seem solidly grounded. It
has signed four commercial partners ” Ford, Heineken,
MasterCard and Sony ” out of six intended for the 2009-12
Champions League seasons.
The competition’s playing format has been copied around the
world, though not its riches. European champion Manchester
United earned $67 million in prize money and television
shares last season.
Critics say the Champions League has created a
self-perpetuating elite, leaving other clubs unable to
bridge the gap. UEFA president Michel Platini, however,
wants the power to ban indebted clubs from the competition.
His words were widely interpreted as an attack on the
English teams that now dominate the Champions League.
Chelsea, last season’s runner-up, owes more than $1 billion,
though its interest-free loans from Russian owner Roman
Abramovich are not yet vulnerable.
Manchester United, valued at $1.8 billion by Forbes
Magazine, has big debts, but it also has a global brand.
When shirt sponsor AIG received a bailout from the U.S.
government last month, there was speculation the insurance
firm might pull out of its 4-year, nearly $100 million deal.
That might seem like a financial but Grothe said it would be
a win-win
scenario for the club.
“Man United would get a hefty signoff fee to release (AIG)
and the day after they could close a deal which is even
bigger,” he said.
An important test of soccer’s prospects will come next
month, when domestic television rights are offered in
Germany to broadcast the Bundesliga.
Public broadcaster ARD and subscription service Premiere are
favored to win the deal, with the price is expected to be
more than $544 million a season.

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Saturday’s (10/18) predictions

Women’s game

PREDICTION: (at) Ursuline 2, Santa Rosa 1
FINAL: Santa Rosa 3, Ursuline 1