Rolling sports business news wrap: Every deal, every day

Top story: AC Milan owner tries to refinance debt with Bitcoin

Rolling sports business news wrap: Every deal, every day

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Soccer: AC Milan owner Yonghong Li has reportedly failed in an attempt to refinance the club’s debt using Bitcoin.

The Chinese investor, who bought Milan last May, is exploring ways of repaying the loan that was taken out when purchasing the Serie A club. Italian daily newspaper La Republica report that Li failed in an attempt to use volatile cryptocurrency Bitcoin as a way of refinancing the club as the Rossoneri look to repay a loan, believed to be in excess of €300m (US$369 million), that was taken out by American hedge fund Elliott Management in April last year.


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Milan's managing director Marco Fassone and one of Li's advisors have since travelled to London to meet with Merrill Lynch in an attempt to secure funds before the end of March.

According to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Milan have given Li until 4th April to contribute €10 million in a bid to show signs of progress, with another report suggesting he has since secured new loans from Hong Kong to pay that figure. 

Football Italia noted Li has until October to repay the €180 million loan he took from Elliott in order to complete the club’s purchase and end any chance of the creditors taking control of the club. The Rossoneri, who released a statement last month denying any impending bankruptcy, need €35 million in capital by 30th June in order to qualify for the 2018/19 Serie A. 

Whilst their rivals are in the mire, Inter Milan are launching more international academies. The club have opened two new football schools in Argentina, one in Buenos Aires and the other in Santiago del Estero. 

Hellas Verona have announced a partnership with Linkem SpA that runs through the 2018/19 season. The wireless broadband and ultra-broadband provider will see brand presence at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi and next will season will be title sponsor of the stadium's family stand.

In Greece, pay-television broadcaster Nova has confirmed individual rights deals with five Superleague soccer clubs as the country's soccer top-tier moves away from a collective rights selling model at the end of the season. Nova said it has signed deals for the 2018/19 season with Athlitiki Enosi Larissa, Asteras Tripolis, Levadiakos, Panionios and PAS Giannina. These contracts are added to deals already signed with AEK Athens, Olympiacos and PAOK.

Pan-regional pay-television broadcaster GolTV has regained rights to Primera Categoría Serie A and Serie B, the top two divisions of Ecuadorian football for 10 years. The network had to re-bid for the contract following a legal challenge to its original deal in June 2017.

The Spanish soccer federation (RFEF), will have to redraft the regulations for the sale of domestic broadcast rights for the forthcoming final of the Copa del Rey, the premier club knockout competition, and the Supercopa, the curtain-raiser to next season, after the CNMC, the Spanish competition authority, deemed said the bid process draft “does not meet any of the requirements demanded”.

Cricket: Ben Stokes has found a new personal kit supplier with Gunn and Moore taking on the England all-rounder following the loss of his previous UK£200,000 deal with New Balance last October.

Hampshire County Cricket Club have announced a new partnership with Adidas, which will sees the sportswear giant become the official kit supplier to the Hampshire first-team in all three domestic formats.

Sean Ervine in Hampshire's new Adidas kti (Dave Vokes Photography)

Rugby league: Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) has confirmed the launch of a four-team Women’s Premiership, with automotive company Holden signing on as inaugural title sponsor the 2018.

Motorsport: MotoAmerica has extended its agreement with Dainese to see the company continue as an official safety partner and supporting partners of its 2018 Series.

The RX2 International Series has confirmed key partners Olsbergs, VEIDEC and title sponsor Cooper Tire Europe are all back on-board for will return for the 2019 season.

Rowing: The World Rowing Federation (FISA) has appointed Racice, Czech Republic as host of the 2022 World Championships to as no suitable alternative bids were submitted to host the event.

Triathlon: BMW Group Ireland has agreed a €1 million (US$1.2 million) three-year deal with Triathlon Ireland to become its main sponsor, as well as title sponsor of the BMW Triathlon National Series and the BMW Duathlon National Series.

The Ironman Triathlon series, organised by US-based World Triathlon Corporation, has announced a new five-year partnership with Italian Sports nutrition brand Enervit.

Badminton: Badminton England have signed a partnership agreement with Freedom Leisure in a bid to boost participation through activations in the company's sites.

Multisport: The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Gerflor have signed a sponsorship agreement that covers sees French flooring company provide its services to OCA events until 2020.

Horse racing: Finlandia Vodka has renewed its sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby, with the brand continuing as the official vodka for the famous US race.

Equestrian: Event Rider Masters (ERM) has re-appointed Red Handed as Host Broadcaster for third year of the international eventing series.

Sailing: America's Cup syndicate Team Luna Rossa Challenge have announced that Garmin has been selected as an official supplier.

Venues: The XL Group insurance company recently renewed its naming rights for downtown Hartford's XL Center, the arena will host two rounds of the 2019 NCAA men's basketball March Madness tournament.

Cease and desist of the day

The New York Yankees latest branding innovation appears to have landed them in hot water (or should that be warm beer?) with Major League Baseball (MLB). Images emerged from a media event at Yankee Stadium of beer where the images of players — including Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton — were imprinted in the foam. If an MLB team creates a new sales initiative it has to be signed off by the league but it appears the Yankees failed to do so. The MLB responded with what amounted to a cease-and-desist order. A spokesman for MLB said: “We spoke to the club, the club wasn’t aware, either. To the best of our knowledge, they have told them it’s not authorized, to cease doing it.’’

A spokesman for the Yankees said: “Our hospitality team took Monday’s event as an opportunity to test the image machine with various Yankees-related logos and photos. However, the Yankees have no current plans of incorporating this decorative element on concessions items this season.”

(Picture: Twitter/JeffEisenband)

Our industry digest will update throughout the day as deals break so check back to make sure you do not miss a story