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Exclusivity period ends for Everton suitors, who insist they remain interested....FIFA approves of new offside techology for Qatar WC....Canal Plus spends big for French Champions League rights

Everton's future unclear as exclusivity period ends

Everton's takeover bid from Peter Kenyon's U.S. consortium "now looks in the balance after conflicting claims emerged from the parties involved." Sources close to club Owner Farhad Moshiri said that he has ended talks with the group and "the deal is now dead," but representatives of the group led by real estate tycoon Maciek Kaminski "have subsequently insisted that their position hasn't changed." The group's period of exclusivity ended Friday and aides to Moshiri, who has been Everton's majority shareholder since '16, "insist he remains fully-committed to the club and the completion of the new stadium." However, representatives of the the Kaminski group said that "paperwork was exchanged overnight" with regards to an exclusivity extension (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 7/1).

Kenyon's group began talks with Everton as the club sought investment for its new £500M ($603M) stadium. With Everton having reportedly "decided to move on" from the takeover talks, it is not clear if the group is "still interested in helping to fund the stadium." Everton has posted losses of £372M ($449M) over the past three seasons, and has suspended contracts with Russian sponsors who were owned or part-owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov (BBC, 7/1).

Meanwhile, EPL side Leeds and Burnley "dropped the threat of legal action against Everton" and the EPL over the club's finances (BBC, 7/1).

FIFA approves new offside tech for World Cup

Semi-automated offside technology will be used at this year's World Cup in Qatar, promising decisions that are "more accurate and a lot quicker," FIFA said on Friday. In what can be considered an "extraordinary development in the officiating of the game," technology will be able to "resolve contentious offside calls with a speed and accuracy unimaginable less than a decade ago." Using cameras strategically positioned around the stadiums, and a chip in the match ball, FIFA said the technology will go a long way to cutting down on continuous VAR decisions on marginal offside calls and reduce the time needed to check. The technology has already been tested at two tournaments over the last seven months and had been expected to be approved for the World Cup in Qatar from Nov. 21-Dec. 18. It will be used at all the venues at the tournament (REUTERS, 7/1).

The so-called Semi-Automated Offside Technology relies on 12 optical tracking cameras, which track 29 points on the body for every player at a rate of 50 times per second, in conjunction with an inertial sensor embedded in the match ball transmitting at 500 hertz. See more in SportTechie.

Canal+ acquires French Champions League rights

Canal+ will pay €480M ($499M) per season for the French rights to the Champions League from '24-27. The French broadcaster has acquired a package of rights that also includes the UEFA Europa League and Conference League, but will not be able to carry the Champions League final, as it is a "protected event" in France that must air on free-TV. The French Champions League rights had until now belonged to RMC Sport, Canal+ and beIN Sports. In France, free-TV broadcaster TF1 holds the rights to the UCL final through '24. After that, M6 will carry the final in a deal worth €4M ($4.2M) per season. One reason Canal+ is investing in the Champions League rights is that starting in '24, Ligue 1 will have an additional team competing in the tournament (PALCO23, 6/30).

RFU announces plan to improve women's league

The RFU has announced a 10-year plan around Premier 15s, with the goal to “professionalise the women’s league in England and make it ‘the most competitive, progressive and sustainable domestic competition in the world.’”  It plans to “establish a new company with its own chief executive … who will report to a new, independent board of directors.” There will be at least 10 teams in the league, and the “hope is to broaden the reach of women’s rugby by having clubs covering the whole of England.” The overall cost is expected to be $267M with revenues of $209M. The resulting loss “will be covered by the RFU and clubs from the 2023-24 season onwards” (LONDON TIMES, 7/1).

Wimbledon's Centre Court decisions questioned

Wimbledon is facing criticism over "Centre Court roof bungles," having kept it closed during dry weather for Katie Boulter's win but open during rain on Rafael Nadal's match. Nadal's fourth set against Ricardas Berankis was "heavily disrupted" as staff were forced to sweep the grass dry as the roof eventually came on, "causing a total 50-minute delay." The All England Club "had no immediate explanation for the decisions," although organizers are always led minute-to-minute by weather forecasts. The decision to keep the roof closed earlier had puzzled Boulter, who said of the closed roof, "I didn't know until maybe five minutes before I went on the court. It was definitely relevant. It was nice to get acquainted in my first match under the roof. Never seen it before, never played underneath it" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/30).

SBJ Forty Under 40: LaLiga N.A. CEO Boris Gartner

This year's class of SBJ's Forty Under 40, honoring the "leaders and decision-makers moving the industry forward," was revealed in the June 27 issue of SBJ. Among that class was LaLiga North America CEO Boris Gartner, who has led the joint venture between the Spanish league and Relevent Sports since '18. SBJ's Alex Silverman on Gartner:

In just four years, Gartner has led his team in securing more than $2 billion in media rights between the U.S., Mexico and Central America, earning $10 million in annual sponsorship revenue specific to the U.S. and building a bilingual content studio in Mexico City that produces short- and long-form content aimed specifically at a North American audience.

Most of all, Gartner is proud of the culture he has helped create among the venture’s more than 30 employees. Even through the pandemic and the “great resignation,” Gartner said not a single employee has left.

See more from Silverman on Gartner here.

Short Takes

The UEFA Women's European Championship tournament will draw a record attendance in England this summer with 500,000 tickets already sold (REUTERS, 7/1),

LaLiga side Athletic Club named former Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde its head coach. Valverde is set to begin his third tenure as manager of Athletic Club. His appointment comes six days after new club President Jon Uriarte was elected (THE ATHLETIC, 6/30).

LaLiga side Sevilla named online investment platform Degiro its principal sponsor for the '22-23 season. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed (PALCO23, 6/30).

EPL side Southampton became the first team in the league to launch an NFT kit design collection. The club is launching three unique NFTs around the launch of its home, away and third kits for '22-23 (Southampton).

Mike Dean will become a dedicated video assistant referee in the EPL next season. The 54-year-old "hung up his whistle at the end of last season after 22 years of on-pitch duties" (LONDON TIMES, 7/1).

Derby County's takeover by local property developer David Clowes has been completed, ending the League One club's nine months in administration (BBC, 7/1).

South Korea officially submitted its bid to stage the Asian Cup in '23 following China's decision to relinquish its hosting rights, the Korean FA announced (REUTERS, 7/1).

Wallabies' major partner and official vehicle of the club Land Rover Australia have selected three youth mascots as ‘Defenders of Tomorrow’ for the England Series, starting on July 2 in Perth (Land Rover).

What They're Saying

"I cannot control, of course, what they do with other drivers, but at least I want to be in control with what I'm releasing. That's what we're going to do. I hope, of course, that it's going to be good, because I also understand that Netflix really helped a lot for the popularity, especially in the U.S." -- Red Bull F1 driver Max Verstappen, who did not cooperate with producers for the fourth season of "Drive to Survive," explaining why he is now open to working with the show (REUTERS, 7/1).

"First of all, I want to appeal directly to this group of people and strongly urge you to not put yourselves, the drivers, as well as the many marshals, volunteers and members of the public, at risk. Going onto a live racetrack is extremely dangerous -- if you go ahead with this reckless plan you are jeopardising lives" -- Northamptonshire Police Event Commander Chief Inspector Tom Thompson, on demonstrators' planned protests during this weekend's British F1 GP (MOTORSPORT.com, 7/1).

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