The 2016 sports industry A-Z (part 1)

A possibly handy guide to the people, places and stories to be keeping tabs on across the business of sport over the next twelve months.


Expect more of them, particularly by Chinese firms. Dalian Wanda showed its hand in 2015 by acquiring Infront Sports and Media and the World Triathlon Corporation; it’s a safe bet that its portfolio will grow again before long, while the evidence of the past decade suggests there’ll be another billionaire or two unable to resist the allure of global sport.

Bloated football tournaments

Qualifying for Euro 2016 threw up a number of exciting storylines – former minnows qualifying, an established giant in Holland somehow failing to make it – but the jury is still out on whether the expansion of the European Championship finals from 16 to 24 teams will make for a better sporting spectacle. For those of a certain age, however, Euro 2016 is certain to evoke happy memories of France ’98 (perhaps the BBC and ITV will even resurrect their excellent theme tunes).


Like many sectors (I assume) the sports industry conference market is well and truly saturated. Before you know it your 2016 diary will be full of exhibitions, half-day seminars, full-day conferences, multi-day conferences, private dinners and workshops. Some will be good, some less so. And there’ll be much debate about whether any of them really were worth the entrance fee or the day out of the office. Anyway, see you at the next one.


Japan has the attention of everyone in the sports industry, not least because of the remarkable uptake of sponsorships for Tokyo 2020 during 2015. Dentsu, to nobody’s surprise, has been at the heart of that Olympic action. It’ll be worth watching to see if any other national Olympic committee follows the United States Olympic Committee’s lead in 2016 by partnering with a local agency in Japan to try and grab some of the apparently low-hanging fruit. Elsewhere, Dentsu also has quite the job on its hands in 2016 as the IAAF’s exclusive marketing partner.

Europe (Grand Prix of)

Azerbaijan joins the Formula One calendar in 2016, with a race on the streets of the capital Baku. In line with the country’s efforts to portray itself as European, the race will be, somewhat oddly, officially known as the Grand Prix of Europe. The race is unlikely to pass without the kind of scrutiny which overshadowed the build-up to the European Games last June, prompting more valid questions about where sport should be staged.

Federation rebrands 

United World Wrestling and World Rugby have already ditched the acronyms, World Sailing (formerly ISAF) is in the process of doing so and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) is unsurprisingly considering its options. My guess is they won’t be the last major sport federations to choose this as an opportune moment for a rebrand and a refreshed image.

Golf and rugby sevens

A big year for both sports as the former returns to the Olympics and the latter makes its Olympic debut. Both will get plenty of attention in Rio, but the full impact of their Olympic inclusion, in particular whether it has helped to open up new markets, won’t be felt for some time.

Haas F1 Team

Start-from-scratch Formula One teams don’t come along too often – the last time the sport had entirely new entrants was in 2010 and only one of the three new teams that year is still on the grid. Boosted by a close technical relationship with Ferrari and the signing of lead driver Romain Grosjean, the early prognosis for Haas F1 Team is healthy. Formula One certainly needs its new American team to stick around.

Infantino (Gianni) 

Uefa’s king of long-winded draw explanations might be running world football by February. Or one of the others might win. Either way, you’ll be hearing plenty about Fifa and its new president in 2016.

Jeongseon Alpine Centre

The Olympic movement’s eyes will naturally be trained on Rio in 2016, but there should at least be the odd glance at continuing preparations for the next winter Games, PyeongChang 2018 – commercially, at least, it has been a tardy start. February’s alpine skiing test events, including a men’s World Cup downhill, in Jeongseon will be a good barometer on progress and developing infrastructure.

Kobe Bryant

The NBA has already begun bidding farewell to one of its true breakout global stars – one of the few players, for example, that the average UK sports fan would be able to name. With the LA Lakers highly unlikely to make the play-offs, Kobe Bryant’s final game is set to be at the Staples Center on 13th April against Utah Jazz.

Los Angeles

Could 2016 be the year when the NFL finally puts a team (or teams) in Los Angeles? Nobody’s entirely sure, but with two stadium sites and three teams – the St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers – in play, a definitive relocation decision has never seemed closer. And if and when an LA team happens, will London become the NFL’s next relocation focus?

MLB in London

Speculation persists that Major League Baseball will follow the lead of the NFL and NBA by experimenting with games in London – if it is to happen in the next couple of years, expect an announcement in 2016. The Olympic Stadium would appear an obvious choice to host, although there is no shortage of other stadium options in London – the NFL after all currently has deals in place with three venues in the city.

For part 2, unsurprisingly covering the letters N to Z (yes, including X), click here.


Twitter: @davidcushnan



This week’s sports industry reading list (festive edition)

So this is Christmas. But in another very real sense this is also the sports industry reading list, my selection of the best writing on the global business of sport – from newspapers, websites, trade publications and blogs. Here, for the last time in 2015, is this week’s pick:

This week’s sports industry reading list

  • Another week, another list: Forbes’s Maury Brown has produced the Sports Money 50, his 50 must-follow sports business tweeters (or, more accurately, 50 must-follow US sports business tweeters). As with all these type of things, plenty to disagree with and question here (not least the large number of Forbes-related handles included) but it’s worth at least a peek.
  • In the week Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini were each banned from football from eight years – although both intend to appeal Monday’s verdict of Fifa’s ethics committee – there were a couple of pieces that stood out. First, David Conn of the Guardian on Blatter. And Paul Hayward, chief sports writer at the Telegraph, on Platini’s rise and fall. Both are highly recommended.
  • This piece is not strictly about the business of sport but it may ultimately have relevance for the industry, should Rome emerge as a genuine contender to stage the 2024 Olympic Games. Anyway, I thought this was a fascinating Guardian Cities’ article by Rosie Scammell on the challenges of modernising a city that is still in many parts ancient.
  • And finally, moving entirely away from sport – what the heck, it’s Christmas – I thought this festive postcard from 35,000 feet from British Airways first officer Marc Vanhoenacker, published in the Financial Times this week, was just wonderful. Enjoy.

On that note, thanks for reading, Merry Christmas and in the spirit of the season feel free to share this blog far and wide. Let me know, too, what you think of it either via email – – or on Twitter. And standby for more in 2016.

This week’s sports industry reading list

Welcome along to the sports industry reading list, an irregular and handpicked collection of what I consider to be the best and most interesting writing about the global business of sport. As always, you’ll find profiles, interviews, opinion pieces and analysis here on all manner of issues, from the way sport is broadcast, the flow of money through the industry and the people who run the whole thing. Let me know what you like and dislike by sending me an email here or commenting via Twitter, where you’ll find me at @DavidCushnan. Enough with the parish notices. To business:

Sports industry must-reads (from the past couple of weeks or so)

  • In the wake of the recent Chinese investment in Manchester City, Professor Simon Chadwick, a well-known commentator on the business of sport, produced this thoughtful analysis of China’s growing impact on football around the world.
  • James Emmett, editor-in-chief of something called SportsPro, found himself trotting round Los Angeles recently, to discover more about top-level equestrianism and one of its new showpiece events. Then he wrote this typically terrific piece about the business and personalities behind it.
  • If you haven’t already seen it, Richard Gillis from the potentially award-winning Unofficial Partner blog last week ranked and published his top 50 (or 51) sports business tweeters. The full ‘Unofficial 50’ list is here and once you’ve read that do read Richard’s thoughts on the arduous process he put himself through.
  • Over at Inside the Games, David Owen took a detailed and fascinating look at the financial transparency of international Olympic sports federations after a year of considerable discomfort for several of them.
  • Matt Cutler, formerly of Sport Business International, delved into the strange old world of Twitter sports parodies and discovered some interesting things. The resulting piece, for Vice Sports, is well worth a look.
  • Rome was this week confirmed as the venue for the Ryder Cup in 2022. BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter provided some context on the decision and the European Tour’s rationale for taking the event to new markets.

Something for everyone there (if you’re a sports business enthusiast, that is). Do check back here soon for more.

The sports industry week: 10 points of interest

In the week Hamburg’s residents voted down the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympics, major new Chinese investment was confirmed at Manchester City and the shenanigans at Fifa continued, here’s ten other sports industry points of interest you might have missed from the past few days:

  • The start time of the 2016 Grand National is moving back an hour, to give more people the opportunity to watch.

Comments, feedback and a measured amount of criticism are welcomed here and on Twitter, where you’ll find me at @DavidCushnan.

This week’s sports industry reading list

Welcome along to the latest edition of my sports industry reading list – a hand-picked and typed selection of interesting features, profiles, columns and points of view on all matters pertaining to the global business of sport. It’s been a while, and nobody has any time to waste, so let’s get cracking.

This week’s sports industry must-reads

  • The people of Hamburg (and Kiel, which would have hosted the sailing) voted against the city’s proposed bid to stage the 2024 Olympic Games on Sunday night, a move that surprised local officials and comes as something of the proverbial hammer-blow to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC had hoped a field of five competitive bidders for 2024 would lay to rest concerns about the cost and legacy of an Olympics, following the multiple withdrawals from the 2022 winter Games bidding process and Boston’s ill-fated bid for 2024. Alas, the field is now down to four, raising all sorts of fresh questions about the process, PR and finances of staging the world’s largest sporting event. Two terrific pieces of analysis followed the Hamburg decision, from keen Olympic observers Alan Abrahamson and Inside the Games’ Nick Butler.
  • You might have heard that Great Britain won the Davis Cup for the first time since 1936. at the weekend. You might also have heard Andy Murray and team coach Leon Smith’s comments on Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the national tennis governing body – essentially the prevailing feeling is Britain’s victory was in spite of the LTA, rather than because of it. That prompted this interesting LinkedIn post by writer and tennis coach Dan Travis about what should happen next as British tennis searches for the right balance between participation and performance.
  • How global sport is governed is one of the stories of the year – from Fifa to the IAAF, with all sorts of other, less publicised cases, in between, it has not been a good year for sports administrators.  In the New York Times, Christopher Clarey has done his usual sterling job of summing up where sport stands at the end of what might best be described as its annus horribilis.
  • In the week when Chelsea announced initial plans to build a new stadium where Stamford Bridge currently sits, I thought this was a well-written, interesting and at times quite poignant piece on progress and how English football stadiums have changed and are changing – 36 of the 92 English league clubs have moved grounds in the past 20 years. It’s essentially a piece on progress, for better or for worse, by the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor.
  • The Formula One season ended with something of a whimper on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, with the titles long since decided and, as usual, plenty of politics playing out in the paddock. It’s been that sort of season. The dominance of the car manufacturers, thanks to a combination of their financial might and a rules package which has made engine performance more important than ever, is currently the subject of much discussion – customer teams are increasingly under the cash cosh, while Red Bull’s struggle to secure a power unit for 2016 has been documented exhaustively. Frankly, you should be reading Joe Saward’s terrific Formula One blog already, but if you’re not here’s his latest authoritative dispatch, explaining what was happening behind the scenes in Abu Dhabi as the sport heads into hibernation.

That’s your lot for now. Hope you found something to tickle your fancy – and if you did, please do share the blog with industry colleagues and friends, or let me know via @DavidCushnan on Twitter, or by email.