David Baddiel and Frank Skinner are to host a number of podcasts during this summers World Cup in Germany.  Following the lead of Ricky Gervais’ popular comedy podcast, backed by the Guardian, Baddiel and Skinner will produce 9 football-themed podcasts.

Whilst I am sure these podcasts will be funny it does worry me that celebrity names are being associated with podcasts at such an early stage in this relatively new form of media.  There are plenty of excellent podcasts out there which deserve an audience just as those sponsored by newspapers. These podcasts will eventually need to bring on board advertisers but with the likes of Gervais and Baddiel & Skinner getting involved I feel that brands will, in the future, only be interested in ‘celebrity’ podcasts.  A real shame.

I can forgive Baddiel and Skinner if they produce anything as funny as the original Fantasy Football aired on BBC2 and if they guarantee not to sing.

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Reading an article in The Guardian newspaper today and had a real sense of déjà vu.

G14,comprising 18 of Europe’s richest football powers, has launched an attempt to kill off the Champions League in its present form and seize ownership of the game’s most prestigious club competition. The G14 group, whose members include Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, has agreed an internal policy document, exclusively obtained by the Guardian, which outlines their intention to guarantee the dominance of their 18 clubs in European football.

Guardian Unlimited Football | News | Football: Takeover bid could change face of football

It almost sounds like we’re back in 1991 and the Football Association’s Blueprint For Football, which ulitmately led to the formation of the Premier League.

Q.The reasons for the need for a ‘Blueprint For Football’?

A.The clubs wanted greater control over the distribution of the revenues, particularly from television, in order to reduce risks from financial instability.

Q.The reasons for the need for a ‘Vision Europe’ document?

A.The clubs want greater control over the distribution of the revenues, particularly from television, in order to reduce risks from
financial instability.

The G14 clubs are suggesting that it is difficult to make forward plans as revenues can vary from one season to the next depending on whether a club sustains its presence in the Champions League. This is the same clubs who have, in the past, lobbied UEFA for a greater share of revenues from the Champions League. The quote below was written in August 2002:

Europe’s leading football clubs, unhappy about changes to the format of the
Champions League, will today demand a greater share of the television rights money and more control over the way the competition is run.

Guardian Unlimited Football | Champions League | Clubs turn on Uefa changes

It seems relatively simple to me, the G14 clubs are simply raising the stakes by wanting a greater share of revenues but they are not willing to accept that the risks are consequently raised should a club not perform on the pitch. So what do they want do? Remove the competition by having a closed league.

There is no better way to ensure fans switch off from football, in fact any sport, than to remove the competitive element from the game.

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ESPN launched their first channel into the UK market today with their archived sports offering ESPN Classic Sport. The channel offers some interesting content but whether it will gain enough viewers in the UK to make it viable will remain to be seen. I was glad to see that the opening night included England’s victory over Australia in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and also one of the greatest tennis matches of all-time, Borg vs. McEnroe at Wimbledon.

In 2001 the BBC and NTL were rumoured to be launching a classic sports channel based on the BBC archives, but the channel never materialised.

Will there be enough hunger from the British public who have nearly 30 channels to choose from on digital tv? I would like to think so, the programming lined up for the first week is truly ‘classic’ sports, the question arises as to where the channel goes once its marquee events (for a British audience) have been shown?

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I’ve recently returned to the King of Shaves website to see how they had reacted to the performances of their sponsored Great Britain athletes at the Winter Olympics in Turin. Never ones to take themselves too seriously they have adapted their King of Skeleton game to include Kristan Bromley and Silver Medal winning Shelley Rudman.

KingofSkeleton

One of the funniest features of the updated game is (unfortunately) crashing and seeing our Olympians flying through the air, into trees and through snowmen.

KingofSkeletonShelley KingofSkeletonKristan

The game has had some 5m+ plays and can be considered a great success for the brand. There are also some ‘secret’ codes for the game, including one where you can drive a mini car down the bob run, it looks superb.

Great Campaign

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I try not to make consecutive posts about the same subject but following Shelley Rudman’s superb Silver medal in the Skeleton at the Winter Olympic’s the guys at King of Shaves must be patting themselves on the back.

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Despite sponsors logo’s being banned at the Olympic Games much of the media has been using video and images of Rudman prior to the Games, in her King of Shaves branded equipment, in the build up to yesterday’s superb event.

Today we look forward to Kristan Bromley who today received some 10 minutes of interview on BBC Television with the King of Shaves branding on display for much of that time.

Well done to King of Shaves for supporting these athletes, you truly deserve all the publicity you are getting.

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I just love these small(er) sponsor partnerships which often get lost in the multi-million pound deals of Formula One, Golf, Football, etc.  The shaving brand, King of Shaves, is sponsoring British Skeleton champion Kristian Bromley as he prepares for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.  King of Shaves has executed this really well, not only with the more traditional branding on Bromley’s racewear and equipment and an online diary but also with a game giving players the opportunity to win a trip to the Olympic Games to see the athlete in action.

I would like to have seen the diary element updated a little more to give us some idea of how his preparations are going, it hasn’t been updated in some 2 months, in fact it only has one entry which is a bit of a disappointment.

The brand will get some great PR out of this, especially if Bromley medals or even wins gold which he is more than capable of doing.

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Mobile telecoms company Vodafone today announced that they would become the title sponsor for McLaren-Mercedes Formula One team for a period of 10 years with a review after 5. This means that they will not be renewing their sponsorship of the Ferrari team of which Michael Shumacher has given the brand significant exposure with multiple world championship wins. The change in sponsorship is perhaps down to a number of factors:-

  • Vodafone will use the Mclaren-Mercedes relationship to bolster marketing activities in the UK and in particular Germany where it has recently added two new directors, including marketing.

Clearly the company has no concerns over a potential split in Formula One but does have some kind of insurance in the review period after 5 years.

Some of the other properties Vodafone sponsors, e.g. the England and Wales cricket team, must now be waiting for the call, or otherwise, with regards to their sponsorship.

Both Manchester United and Ferrari’s corporate colours were red, same as Vodafone’s, I guess we’ll have to get used to the ‘Silver Arrows’ becoming the ‘Red Arrows’.

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Wow, what a week in sport, Manchester United get knocked out of the UEFA Champions League and Harry Redknapp returns to Portsmouth.

First off, Man. Utd leaving Europe prematurely, worse still at the bottom of the group, so the club can’t even ‘enjoy’ the UEFA Cup.  The implications for the club are that they have lost out on a potential £20m if they had won the competition, this WILL affect the bottom line.  Couple that with the loss of the Vodafone shirt sponsorship and the Glazer family must be having some serious thoughts as to exactly what they have bought.  Their business plan must be looking a little sick at the moment, despite their comments following Manchester United’s exit from the Champions League.

And then we had the saga of Harry Redknapp and whether he would stay at Southampton or go back to Portsmouth.  Even removing the fierce rivalry of these two clubs, I am still amazed at how much disruption has been caused to these two organisations over the past week.  Football certainly isn’t like any otehr business is it?  As an aside to this whole mess, the Football Association are working with Betfair to investigate betting paterns prior to Redknapp’s appointment at Portsmouth

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