Rolling sports business news wrap: Every deal, every day

Top story: AFL launches first esports venture with Riot Games.

Rolling sports business news wrap: Every deal, every day


Top story

The Australian Football League (AFL) has made its first venture into esports after partnering with video game developer Riot Games to launch a tournament in Melbourne later this year.


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The Australian rules football competition said it would confirm a venue and date for the competitive gaming event in the coming weeks, although the league said it is set to take place in November. 

The tournament will centre on the League of Legends: League of Origin Game and will feature an all-star match, with professional competitors to be drawn from the Oceanic Pro League to represent their home states.

In addition, an esports studio will be set up in Melbourne in an attempt to raise the profile of League of Legends in the region. 

"Esports is one of the most exciting emerging industries to come in and disrupt the traditional sports landscape. Riot are a respected and credible leader in this space and this event will be a great opportunity to continue on that path," said Darren Birch, the AFL's growth, digital and audience manager.

"We will bring our expertise and insight to the competition, giving all-star players an opportunity to play with different teams, play in a different tournament structure and in a radically different venue environment.

"Our vision is to progress the game of AFL and continue to help fans share in the experience of footy. Working with Riot is one step towards us learning new ways to connect with fans and enhance the complete digital experience."


US stock car racing organisation Nascar has expanded its partnership with Camping World to give retail network Gander Outdoors the naming rights to the Nascar Truck Series from 2019. 

US insurance firm AIG has extended its backing of the Dublin GAA for another five years. According to the Irish Times, AIG has committed €4 million (US$4.8 million) to continue sponsoring the Gaelic athletic association's football and hurling teams until 2023. 

Top-flight Dutch soccer side AZ Alkmaar have signed a strategic partnership with German automotive giant BMW, which will serve as the Eredivisie club's official vehicle supplier until 2023. 

Golf course equipment supplier John Deere has been announced as an official partner of next year's Solheim Cup at Gleneagles. The company will be the official golf course and turf maintenance machinery event partner of the biennial women's golf tournament, which is contested by representative teams from the US and Europe.

The Special K cereal brand will continue to sponsor the AFL Women's competition until 2019. 

EuroLeague Basketball, the company that operates the top two professional club basketball competitions in Europe, has named Tripoki as its official travel booking portal. 

Consumer electronics company Philco has agreed a shirt sponsorship deal with Brazilian soccer side Santos, while it has also partnered with another Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A team in the form of Paraná.

Wireless carrier US Cellular will be the primary sponsor of JR Motorsports driver Elliot Sadler's number one entry for the Nascar Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway on 28th July. 

Media rights

Afghan media group Ariana Television Network has acquired exclusive rights to this year’s Fifa World Cup national team soccer tournament, which takes place in Russia from 14th June to 15th July.

Meanwhile, Sport1 has also acquired a package of rights for the World Cup. The German sports broadcaster will show highlights from all 64 games across its digital platforms, with coverage set to be made available free-of-charge on the website and the Sport1 mobile applications.

IMG has agreed a deal with the TRS Communications Company which will see Chinese online broadcaster Sohu show almost every round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2018.   


The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has appointed global brand strategy and design firm Landor to help create the Volleyball Nations League, which is set to debut in 2018. 

Third-tier German soccer side SpVgg Unterhaching have appointed the Lagardère Sports agency to oversee all marketing aspects of the club. The deal will see Lagardère handle the 3. Liga outfit's sponsorship and hospitality rights for five years. 

Surprise of the day

English rugby union side Harlequins celebrated their new partnership with Italian autmotive brand Maserati by providing a young fan with a unique surprise. 12-year-old Samuel Freestone was picked up from school by club internationals Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw and Alofa Alofa before joining the players in a Maserati for a trip to Quins' Twickenham Stoop stadium.