Month: November 2013

Connors Sports Management Dominates AFL Draft

ab5fa63bf260fee11c500b2130043314The AFL Draft was held last night on the Gold Coast, and the players weren’t the only ones whose hard work paid off. Behind the scenes, agents were working around the clock to ensure their clients would get the opportunity to make it on the big stage. It is difficult to see who manages draftees as their profiles are often not listed prior to the event, but through some research I have found who represents the top selections.

Tom Boyd was always a lock for number 1. The highly touted forward had a stellar season in the TAC Cup, and his form was rewarded. Boyd is managed by Strategic Management, the team behind players including Buddy Franklin and Gary Ablett.  They also had a second player go in the top 10 in James Aish, who was picked at No.7 by Brisbane.

It was one company though that stole the show, representing 5 of the top 10 picks. Connors Sports Management represent Josh Kelly (2), Jack Billings (3), Luke McDonald (8), Christian Salem (9) and Nathan Freeman (10). They also represent the 18th pick in Luke Dunstan. The Melbourne based company manage a long list of clients including Chris Judd and Dale Thomas. They have 3 accredited agents on their list in Paul Connors, Melissa Oberhofer and Robbie D’Orazio.

Another winner from last nights draft was Stride, who had 3 picks inside the top 15, including Marcus Bontempelli at number 4. The Anthony MacConville led Mac’s Sports also fared well having two picks in the top 12. Elite Sports Properties‘ first draftee was at number 25, while Velocity Sports‘ first pick was at number 37.

Below is a list of the top 10 draftees and their agents:

1. Tom Boyd – Gold Coast – Strategic Management

2.  Josh Kelly – Gold Coast – Connors Sports Management

3. Jack Billings – St, Kilda – Connors Sports Management

4.  Marcus Bontempelli – Western Bulldogs – Stride Sports Management

5. Kade Kolodjashnij – Gold Coast – Mac’s Sports

6. Matt Scharenberg – Collingwood -McDonald Sports

7. James Aish – Brisbane – Strategic Management

8.  Luke McDonald – North Melbourne – Connors Sports Management

9. Christian Salem – Melbourne – Connors Sports Management

10. Nathan Freeman – Collingwood – Connors Sports Management

Why Is Pacquiao Vs. Rios Being Held In Macau? Taxes.

Manny-Pacquiao-v-Miguel-C-001Manny Pacquiao, arguably the second best boxer in the world behind Floyd Mayweather Jr., is due to fight this Saturday in Macau against Brandon Rios. The fight is to contest the WBO International Welterweight Title. It is the first fight for Pacquiao outside the US since 2006.

Pacquiao last fought in December, and just a couple of months after his loss to Juan Manuel Marquez he stated he’d be looking outside the US for his next bout. The reason? Taxes. Despite Nevada having no income tax, Macau is a much more lucrative destination for the fighter.

His team have made no secret of the fact that taxes are a huge reason in him shunning the bright lights of Vegas. His promoter, Bob Arum said : “Manny can go back to Las Vegas and make $25 million, but how much of it will he end up with – $15 million?”. Arum went on further to state that he’d have to be “lunatic” to fight under these tax laws. It is also important to note that Manny is not a resident of the United States, so they have no jurisdiction over his purse in Macau.

Manny earns roughly $25 million per fight in Las Vegas, but he should not expect the same amount in Macau. Industry analysts expect a payday of approximately $20 million. Nevertheless, he still comes out in front thanks to the disparity in tax rates. Macau has a top marginal tax rate of just 12%, while the state of Nevada has a top rate of 39.6%. Based on rough calculations, Team Pacquiao will net approximately $17.6 million from his bout in Macau, compared to $15.1 million if it were held in Vegas. A clear $2.5 million advantage.

Pacquiao isn’t the first athlete to take tax rates into their career. Golfer Phil Mickelson, who currently resides in California, has stated he will re-consider his residency as both federal and state taxes took a significant hike.

Where Is The IMG Sale At?

image: hollywoodreporter.netIt has been over a month since I last posted an update on the sale of IMG. In early October, Martin Sorrell, the CEO of WPP, suggested that a joint bid by private equity firm Silver Lake and talent agency William Morris Endeavour (WME) would be the winning bidder. The deadline for second round bids was November 7th, and this is when the list was cut down to four, possibly five. Making the cut were Silverlake/WME, Carlyle Group/ICM Partners, KKR and Chernin Group/CVC Partners. Russian conglomerate Gazprom, who own soccer club St. Petersburg, are also said to be in the second round. As you can see by the many joint bids, the magnitude of such a buy is near impossible without the help of an equity firm. In many cases, the equity firm already has a stake in the agency they are bidding with.

To much surprise, the joint bid of CAA and TPC is no longer in contention. In fact, they weren’t even considered for the second round. CAA are one of the biggest talent representation firms in the world, boasting the Manning Brothers and LeBron James on their roster. They also recently signed Tim Tebow. Seen as the front runners for the acquisition pre-bidding, their bid was reported to be at the low end of the scale against the others.

While IMG had hoped to get a deal done by Thanksgiving, it now appears unrealistic. Industry insiders suggest a deal may not get done till early next year. It still appears that the Silverlake/WME consortium is in the box seat, just as Martin Sorrell predicted.

Flemington Carnival Sees Decline In Attendance

logo-mccThe Melbourne Cup Carnival is over for another year. The celebrities, the fashion, the marquees are all gone till 2014. While most the media’s attention shone a spotlight on these areas, the public area was where the real story was.

The attendance for the 4 days was down by approximately 20,000 from last year. Each day suffered a decline on last year. What is most harrowing is Oaks Day attendance has fallen roughly 40% in the last 9 years. The capping of numbers at Derby and Cup Day were not needed, with the days not reaching the 100,000 and 110,000 attendances respectively.

While it’s easy to just quote numbers, it is pointless without trying to find ways on why the attendance is in decline, and how it can be improved.

Are ticket prices too high? Only Stakes Day has increased steadily since 2004, and this is the cheapest day. With finding an outfit, food and drink, betting and transport it can become a very costly day.

Was weather a factor? Was there other entertainment options? The Victorian Racing Club (VRC) will have a look at all these factors to determine what, if anything, needs to be changed.

While it hasn’t hit panic stations yet, it definitely is something that needs to be addressed. The perception of these days are that they are full of young people only wanting to get drunk and run amok. This keeps the racing purists away. However, if the young people don’t attend, then who will?

Going back to the point of Oaks Day, I feel that the connect between ‘Ladie’s Day’ and Oaks has been lost. Historically it was seen as the day when women would come to the races, picnic in hand, and revel in the fashion and fun. Now it is seen as the forgotten day, wedged between the weekends and the big race. THE VRC’s campaign to convince your boss to let you have the day off was good, albeit it a little too late.

As previously mentioned, the cost is a huge factor, especially when the alternate options are much cheaper. An issue that racing clubs have had previously is that they only see other sport as competition to their product. This is untrue. Days like these are about the entertainment and socialising. Thus, other entertainment options must be seen as competition. This could include going to the movies or going to a nightclub. When clubs start to assess these, they can work out on how to better improve their experience. What do the 25-35 years old want from the day? How can they shape the day for the next generation of racegoers?

Tim Tebow Switches Over To CAA

Tim TebowTim Tebow, arguably still one of the most talked about athletes, has moved from WME to CAA for his off-field representation. This includes all his appearances, TV and film roles, and other endorsements. CAA Sports had previously negotiated all of his football-related arrangements, so now they will handle all of his business opportunities.

CAA (Creative Artists Agency) have a very strong portfolio in representation of both sport and entertainment clients. Sports stars in their stable include the Manning brothers, Shaun White and Sidney Crosby. On the film side, they represent a host of clients including Jennifer Aniston and Robert DeNiro.

The 26 year old Quarterback has not appeared in the NFL since being cut from the New England Patriots in August this year. Since then, he has been working on getting back on a roster, even turning down a lucrative short-term deal with a Russian NFL side to prove his dedication to making the big time.

He currently has deals with Jockey, TiVo and Nike. Tim is still one of the most recognisable faces in America, and having all his business handled by one agency will certainly help him in the future.

NFL Introduces Stadium WiFi Policy – Should Australian Leagues Follow Suit?

Watching AFL football on a phone or iphone.There’s nothing worse than being at a football game and not being able to text your friends, check social media sites or even browse other scores. Well that’s about to change in the US.

The NFL has recently introduced a policy that will see an end to bad signals and lost connections once and for all. By the end of 2014 all NFL stadiums must meet minimum requirements for WiFi and cellular coverage. Just what the ‘minimum requirements’ actually are is still in question, but many believe that it would be along the lines of the level of coverage a fan would receive at their home. At the moment 20 of the 31 stadiums have WiFi.

NFL’s Chief Information Officer Michelle McKenna-Doyle has this to say on the matter:

“We put minimum standards and metrics in place so not only do clubs know how our Wi-Fi is performing and to hold carriers accountable, but also [sic] analytics for what our fans are doing, which leads us to more marketing,”

Obviously those involved in the NFL have an idea of the importance of coverage at stadiums. With some teams seeing their attendances down it is wise to look at enhancing the fan’s experience.

This leads me to Australian stadiums. It is no secret that nearly every venue is severely lacking when it comes to coverage. At Etihad Stadium, it is virtually impossible to connect to data once a game as started, as the coverage cannot cope with a crowd beyond 20,000 people. When these stadiums were built, mobile internet, let alone WiFi wasn’t invented yet. Racecourses are the first ones to come to party, with all 3 metropolitan tracks now having free on-course WiFi. The cellular coverage is suspect on big race days, but nevertheless they are ahead of the curve.

The implementation of a WiFi network to these stadiums is costly, potentially running over a million dollars. However, the upside is there. A fan’s ability to use social media from inside the stadium would create more conversation about the team. Not only would the fan’s experience be enhanced, but the benefit would flow to the teams. With the ever increasing advancement of the at-home experience, fans are deciding to choose this option over seeing the game live. They can stay connected to the world. In some stadiums, attendees have a blackout from coverage the entire game. At many games, fans are encouraged to check in and follow the conversation on Twitter. This is virtually impossible in Australia as the coverage is so poor, leaving only those experiencing the game on TV, sans live atmosphere, the only people connecting.

While the NFL won’t have an official punishment for breaching the policy, McKenna-Doyle stated that the consequences will run greater than a fine that they could impose. “If they don’t do this, there will be poor-performing ticket sales. They will suffer enough consequences not doing it.”

Andy Murray Teams Up With Lagardere

endehmurrehTennis superstar Andy Murray, who recently set up with own management company 77 Entertainment, has signed a partnership with Lagardere for commercial deals. Initially doubles player Mahesh Bhupati was in charge of this area in his team (under the banner of Globalsport), but now Lagardere will take over. Murray’s original agent, Simon Fuller of XIX Entertainment, will still stay on with the company as a non-executive director.

Murray has deals with Adidas, Head racquets, Royal Bank of Scotland and watchmaker Rado. His deal with Head is due to expire next year, with Adidas the year after.

His hiring of Lagardere is seen to help him transform in to a global brand. The company has office worldwide including the US and Asia, areas seen as potential growth for Murray. John Tobias, who is in charge of the tennis division at Lagardere, will oversee his account.