77: The growth of Padel, Cricket in America, and FaZe Clan going public
A landmark moment in the future of motorsport played out in the deserts of South Australia last week as a pre-season test concluded with the first ever timed electric flying car drag-race.
So, here to get you off to a flying start to this week, here's the latest news from across the sports industry.
Padel: The fastest growing sport in the world
Currently most popular in Latin American countries such as Argentina and Mexico, as well as in Spain, Padel is beginning to spread rapidly across the rest of Europe and worldwide, including places such as the Middle East.
Yesterday, in fact, the 2020 XV World Padel Championship finally began in Qatar, after being postponed due to the pandemic.
So, what is padel? Well, it’s a racquet sport with similarities to tennis and squash. Scoring is the same as in tennis and the balls used are pretty much identical, but slightly lighter. It is played in doubles on an enclosed court that has walls, which the balls can be played off and the racquets, as the name would suggest, are instead stringless paddles.
The sport has proven popular among footballers. Puyol is often seen at World Padel Tour competitions and on the court. Ibrahimovic owns facilities in Sweden, as does Totti in Italy. And last month, Zidane revealed he’s backing a new project alongside his Z5 football academy in the south of France.
Besides garnering the attention of high-profile footballers, padel has caught the attention of tennis’ governing bodies. The LTA, for instance, cite it as one of their key strategies for finding new ways to grow participation and make tennis more accessible in Britain. There are currently 114 courts at 59 clubs in the UK – a number they state is set to “grow substantially over the coming years.”
Our Take: It’s refreshing to see a sport willing to innovate with new formats to grow the game. As an extremely poor tennis player myself, I can completely understand the appeal of lowering the technical barrier to entry.
📚 Further Reading
MLB is testing ways to fix baseball's boredom problem - Bloomberg*
The Pickleball explosion - Axios
World 12s 'dead in the water' after World Rugby refuses to sanction new format - Telegraph
Gliwice to host 2021 Teqball World Championships - Inside the Games
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
On the day that Australia were crowned World T20 Champions for the first time in their history, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that cricket’s governors (the ICC) are expected to award a joint bid by USA Cricket and Cricket West Indies to host the 2024 T20 World Cup.
Such a decision is suggested to potentially help the game’s bid for inclusion at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
Edward Fitzgibbon, a principal consultant at Sports Right Tech, believes that if this happens, it will be "massive" for the sport.
"This could be the watershed moment for cricket in the world's biggest sports market, similar to the 1994 FIFA World Cup for soccer."
The news comes just ahead of Ireland's trip to Florida next month, where they will become the first Full Member of the ICC to play against the United States on American soil, as part of a five-match series.
📚 Further Reading
USA's Major League Cricket T20 tournament pushed back to 2023 at AGM - Cricinfo
Liam Plunkett to leave Surrey and move to Major League Cricket project in USA - The Cricketer
Major League Cricket: Silicon Valley and Bollywood’s grand plan to make America fall in love with T20 - City AM
WEEKLY ROUND UP
The battle to secure the US television rights for the Premier Leagueappears to have become a two-horse race with a pair of principal bidders, NBC and ESPN, fighting it out for exclusive access to all 380 matches. The intense competition for the 2022-28 rights should boost their value to around $2 billion (£1.5 billion) for six years, double that of 2016-22.
SPAC-mania has reached the esports world with FaZe Clan announcing plans to go public via this route. Through a merger with blank-check company B. Riley Prince 150 Merger Corp an IPO will value the combined entity at $1 billion, making the company the first esports franchise unicorn.
Florida-based investment firm 777 Partners has confirmed it is working with an unnamed UK sports group to gain approval for construction of a new street race circuit at the Royal Docks in London, with the potential to host a Formula One race there.
The European Tour group and DP World have announced a ground-breaking evolution to their long-term partnership, with DP World becoming the new title sponsor of the group’s main tour from the start of the 2022 season.
Premier League clubs are set to be required to declare if players and coaches are receiving supplemental payments from deals with companies linked to their team’s ownership. Famously, Roberto Mancini was alleged to have had 2 contracts while he was manager of Man City.
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