Out of the Woods – the return of Golf’s biggest star and its impact on the sporting world

This year’s Masters tournament marked Tiger Woods’ first return to the major championships in three years. Although the primary aim was pursuit of his fifth Green Jacket and 15th major title, the fresh round of excitement and buzz brought about by the iconic golfer’s return has sent the sporting world into a frenzy, generating huge brand exposure in the process. Sports Marketing Agency Nielson Sports quantified “the Tiger Effect” in its release of new industry data of golf’s man to watch.

Nielson Sports highlighted the bump in airtime for Woods and his sponsors during the PGA Tour where he received a staggering 583 minutes of branding exposure which accounted for nearly double the amount of time on screen compared to 320 minutes of other top 10 golfers. Teamed with the fact that the Masters is a “clean course”, this amounted to a lucrative win for the brands representing Woods on his clothing and equipment.

Woods’ comeback clearly still packs a powerful punch evidenced by the two million increase in television viewership over the four Golfing events this season where Woods ranked within the top 25. This equated to an impressive increase of 93% more fans and viewers tuning in compared to the same events last year.

Furthermore on the social media front there have been 3.5 million posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that mention Tiger Woods from 1 January to 30 March 2018. Interestingly, 71 per cent of Tweets mentioned Woods during the Valspar Championship, with just five per cent mentioning winner Paul Casey all in all.

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UEFA charge Liverpool over fans conduct in Champions League

UEFA is investigating the conduct of Liverpool fans over the two-legs of Liverpool’s Champions League quarterfinal fixture.

UEFA has charged Liverpool under Article 16(2) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, which provides:

However, all associations and clubs are liable for the following inappropriate behaviour on the part of their supporters and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives even if they can provide the absence of any negligence in relation to the organisation of the match:

  1. The invasion or attempted invasion of the field of play;
  2. The throwing of objects;
  3. The lighting of fireworks or any other objects;
  4. The use of laser pointers or similar electronic devices;
  5. The use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit a provocative message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly provocative messages that are of a political, ideological, religious or offensive nature;
  6. Acts of damage;
  7. Causing a disturbance during national anthems;
  8. Any other lack of order or discipline observed inside or around the stadium.

In the first-leg of the quarterfinal, Liverpool fans flooded the gates of Anfield to welcome the opposition team bus. Fans were seen throwing objects at the bus, prompting UEFA to charge Liverpool for acts of damage and crowd disturbances under Article 16(2) whilst the lighting of fireworks and flares and the throwing of objects during the game also prompted UEFA to charge Liverpool for its fans conduct.

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A pro-active approach to doping – raising the bar at the Commonwealth Games

The 2018 Commonwealth Games are currently taking place on the Gold Coast of Australia.

With doping still at the forefront of discussions in world sport, especially athletics, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (“ASADA”) implemented a pro-active approach to doping in advance of the Commonwealth Games. More than 3,000 tests were conducted by the ASADA in an effort to identify and remove athletes who may be cheating.

In essence the programme removed ‘cheats’ before the Games began.

The ASADA Chief, David Sharpe, explained:

if you don’t [remove athletes before they arrive at the Games], clean athletes might not have their chance to stand on the podium and hear their national anthem”.

The approach was not a matter of imposing a general blanket of tests but rather it was intelligence-led. The tests targeted certain athletes instead of implementing a purely random selection of tests. This led to three Australian athletes being caught before the Games and subsequently prevented from being selected for the Games and competing.

Since the Games commenced, not a single athlete has been found doping. Tests have been conducted during the course of the Games but no adverse findings have been made.

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Norwich City successfully issue innovative £5m ‘fan’ bond

Norwich City Football Club has successfully issued a bond for £5,000,000. The five year, fixed term unsecured bond is intended to be ring-fenced to be invested in the club’s academy.

The terms of the bond include a 8% annual interest rate that the club will pay to investors, of this 5% of the interest will be paid in cash whilst the remaining 3% will be paid in club credit.

Further, a one off 25% bonus will paid to investors in the event the Canaries are promoted to the Premier League during the term of the bond.

It is worth noting that the club have asked fans to invest rather than donate into the club. Fans can expect a return on their investment whilst also contributing to the advancement of the football club. The investment allows the club to provide funds to its academy without depriving its first team or general club administration of funds.

The club’s managing director, Steve Stone, has suggested that this avenue could set a precedent for other clubs that are interested in investing in its infrastructures. It is certainly a prudent idea for engaging the fans in a constructive way without having to ask for donations.

Specifically, the investment will fund new academy changing rooms and gym facilities.

More than 700 supporters and investors have contributed to the scheme – which originally targeted £3,500,000 – the success of which indicates that other clubs could follow in suit.

What’s in a name? Dulwich Hamlet FC at loggerheads with its landlord over trade marks

GrassPlanning disputes don’t often lead to the host of Match of the Day tweeting their outrage. However, the ongoing saga between Southwark Council and Meadow Residential LLP (“Meadow”), has drawn the ire of Gary Lineker and other prominent figures in the football world. At the centre of the dispute is non-league Dulwich Hamlets FC (“DHFC”).  Meadow purchased the land on which DHFC’s Champion Hill ground is built but have been denied planning permission to construct a residential development by Southwark Council.

Meadow has since taken a number of steps, which the leader of Southwark Council believes to be aimed at bringing the local authority back to the negotiating table. Lawyers for Greendales IP LLC (a subsidiary of Meadow) recently sent a letter to the club stating that Greendales was now the holder of registered trade marks in “Dulwich Hamlet Football Club”, “The Hamlet” and “DHFC” (the “Trade Marks”). Lawyers for Greendales went on to state that Greendales required that the Trade Marks “no longer be used on any printed literature and any online activity including websites and twitter”. Greendales also required confirmation that references to all Trade Marks “will be removed, failing which further action will be taken to protect [Greendales’] position.

The consequences of Greendales’ purported prohibition on the use of the Trade Marks by DHFC are more insidious than the simple deprivation of a right to use three trade marks. The name of a football club is much more than just a commercial brand to its supporters. Each club’s history, indeed its very identity, is inherently tied to its name. The names of clubs are inscribed on trophies and the record books denote every promotion, every relegation and every result by reference to clubs’ names. Fans of DHFC sing the club’s name from the terraces as they have since the club’s foundation in 1893. It is in this context that Greendales sought to register the Trade Marks. Continue Reading

More changes to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup

UEFA has today announced a raft of new changes to the regulations of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League for the start of the 2018/2019 season.

Following February’s UEFA Executive Committee meeting in Bratislava and the decisions taken by the International Football Association Board (“IFAB”) on 3 March 2018 in Zurich, the following changes have been confirmed in relation to the new club competition regulations: Continue Reading

The International Cricket Council bowls a googly at Twenty20 cricket.

The International Cricket Council (“ICC”) has recently reported that it is considering a number of radical proposals to address the growing prominence of Twenty20 (“T20”) cricket after criticism that it is diminishing the primacy of internationals, especially test cricket.

Short-form tournaments, such as T20s, are growing in popularity with some players opting to compete only in lucrative T20 tournaments and leagues instead of the longer version of the game.

This has plagued international test cricket more recently but has been an issue for some countries such as the West Indies for a decade. Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, has urged for international T20 matches to end to alleviate the demanding cricket calendar.

This article considers the problems posed by T20 cricket and the proposals suggested by the ICC, which meets in Kolkata next month to discuss the issue.

T20s, ODIs and Tests

ICC’s Classification of Official Cricket recognises three formats of official cricket – T20, One Day Internationals (“ODIs”) and test cricket.

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The Cheltenham Festival, Brexit and the free movement of horses.

Today marks the start of the Cheltenham Festival, one of the highlights of the National Hunt racing calendar.

The Cheltenham Festival can trace its roots back to 1860, when the first National Hunt Chase took place at Market Harborough. The event has been held in Cheltenham since 1911 and continues to include the Stayers Hurdle, first run in 1912 and the Blue Riband event, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, first run in 1924.

With the Festival timed to coincide with St. Patrick’s day it is perhaps no surprise that it attracts a large amount of race fans and horses from Ireland with punters betting an estimated €450 million during the week.

According to Deloitte, the horse racing industry is worth a combined £5 billion to the British and Irish economies and one that employs some 85,000 people directly and indirectly.

However, a dark cloud is looming over the industry in the form of Brexit, highlighting its all pervasive threat to the economy.

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An analysis of the DCMS Select Committee Report: ‘Combatting doping in sport’ – Part 3 – ‘UK Athletics’ and ‘Criminalisation of doping in sports’

In this, the third and final part of our series on the DCMS Select Committee Report on “Combatting doping in Sport”, Sports Shorts looks at the Report’s findings in relation to performance versus health considerations, record-keeping inadequacies, problems arising from under-funding, and the proposal that doping be made criminalised.

The Nike Oregon Project

The third section of the Report begins by considering treatments received by Sir Mo Farah at the Nike Oregon Project (“NOP”), an initiative aimed at elite athletes and founded in 2001 by Alberto Salazar, Farah’s former coach.

Specifically, the Report discusses the concerns raised by former UK Athletics medical officer Dr John Rogers after he visited a British Athletics training camp organised by NOP. In evidence submitted by Rogers, he draws attention to the side-effects of three treatments in particular that were used on Farah at NOP, namely: nasal calcitonin; vitamin D supplementation; and iron supplementation.

Rogers told the Committee that nasal calcitonin “affected calcium metabolism” and in Farah’s case “there was a background medical issue that could have been affected”.[1] As for the vitamin D supplementation, his concern stemmed from the particularly high dosage, which can apparently cause high blood calcium levels, whilst the iron supplementation could have gastrointestinal side-effects.

Apparently, “Alberto Salazar explained to Dr Rogers that he had recommended the calcitonin and the vitamin D supplement to prevent stress fractures, that high dosages of vitamin D would help increase testosterone levels, and that iron supplements would help in high altitudes”.[2] In other words, Salazar prescribed the supplements to improve Farah’s performance.

The Report also discusses evidence received in connection with the administering of L-carnitine to Farah before the 2014 London Marathon by Dr Robin Chakraverty, former Chief Medical Officer at UK Athletics. L-carnitine is a non-essential amino-acid-like compound that assists in energy production. Although not a prohibited substance, there are strict rules around its use; athletes are permitted to take 50ml every six hours, according to the Report. Chakraverty says he injected 2.7 grams and on only one occasion. The Report comments:

“While L-carnitine might be on the list of legal supplements, there is a question over why an athlete should be taking a supplement to enhance their own advantage, rather than working on their own athletic prowess.”[3]

This at once seems a strikingly naïve question to ask in the current context.

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An analysis of the DCMS Select Committee Report: ‘Combatting doping in sport’ – Part 2 – “British Cycling and Team Sky”

In part two of our three part series on the DCMS Select Committee Report in “Combatting doping in Sport” we consider its controversial findings in respect of British Cycling and Team Sky.

It is the second section of the DCMS Select Committee Report that is likely to have the most serious repercussions for two of the biggest names in UK Sport, namely Sir David Brailsford, formerly performance director of British Cycling during its most successful years and currently general manager of Team Sky, and Great Britain’s most successful ever Olympian and Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins.

This section of the DCMS Committee’s report arises from the publication of documents by the Russian ‘Fancy Bear’ hacking group which showed that Sir Bradley benefitted from the use of three separate Therapeutic Use Exemptions (“TUEs”) for a “powerful corticosteroid, triamcinolone” to treat his asthma, prior to both the 2011 and 2012 Tour de France and the 2013 Giro d’Italia.

The Report sets out the background to TUEs, which Sports Shorts has covered previously here, and goes on to consider their use in competitive cycling in particular. It is notable that in this section of the Report the DCMS Committee has relied upon “several doctors, who wish not to be named” and evidence given to the Cycling Independent Reform Commission anonymously. It is a consistent aspect of the Report that the DCMS Committee appears to have accepted such anonymous evidence without seeking to question its veracity or the weight that should be attached to it.

In respect of TUEs generally the DCMS Committee accepts that their use is permitted within the WADA rules but states that it has concern that the “TUE system is open to abuse”.

The Report then focusses on events surrounding the 2011 Criterium du Dauphiné road race which ended on 12 June 2011 and was won by Sir Bradley. This was a key preparatory event for Sir Bradley who was seeking to win the Tour de France which started on 2 July that year.

In particular, the DCMS Committee wished to examine what happened immediately after the race had finished. Of particular focus was the contents of a now notorious “jiffy bag” sent to Team Sky at the end of the race.

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