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Madrid informs F1 of interesting in hosting a grand prix....Former Astros GM completes acquisition of Spanish soccer club Leganes....Serie B side Venezia's bond issue paying dividends

Madrid wants F1 race, but faces stiff competition

Madrid has "expressed its interest" in hosting an F1 race in the future. F1 currently stages the Spanish GP at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona, and has a contract in place with the promoters until '26. But Madrid "has now thrown its hat into the ring as a potential future host city" after writing to F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali to express its interest in hosting a race (MOTORSPORT.com, 6/23).

The Spanish capital "has become a global sports leader," but its new objective "is very ambitious and could even be out of reach." The situation "is clear: countries are forming a line to enter F1's ambitious 24-race calendar, and at the moment, F1's priorities are far from Europe." In '23, Las Vegas will host a GP, giving the sport three races in the U.S. In addition, Madrid has a "long list of competing bidders in front of it," including South Africa. Another issue is that Madrid "does not have facilities that meet F1 standards, as Circuito de Jarama is far from meeting the competition's protocols." While there are talks regarding a new track in Morata de Tajuña, that project "is still in the processing phase" (AS, 6/23).

Ex-Astros GM acquires Spanish soccer club Leganes

Former Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says he is "aiming for long-term success" in LaLiga after his Blue Crow Sports Group bought 99% of the shares in second division side Leganes. The suburban Madrid club finished 12th in the Segunda Division last season, but Luhnow said the immediate aim was to "get back to the top flight," where they spent four years from '16-20. Leganes is "widely seen as one of the best-run clubs" in Spanish soccer, with a "strong financial situation" built under previous President Victoria Pavon and her husband, Felipe Moreno. Luhnow said that Blue Crow Sports Group had considered many different clubs in "eight or nine" leagues throughout Europe. Luhnow said his group "wanted to build on top of the existing club structure," with Sporting Director Txema Indias to continue in his position. Imanol Idiakez, an assistant to Unai Emery at Villarreal, has been named coach (THE ATHLETIC, 6/23).

Earlier this month, Blue Crow Sports completed its acquisition of Mexican club Cancun FC. Luhnow's talks with Pavon and Moreno began in September. He said his group chose Leganés because they "consider Spanish soccer to have the greatest growth potential in the European game," partly because of the league’s tight cost control measures and its recent investment deal with CVC (AP, 6/23). 

Luhnow, who was the Astros' leader in making the team "one of the most analytically-inclined in baseball," said, "All sports have used technology to create advantages, and that is what we want to do. Soccer is a bit behind other sports ... but that is going to change in the coming years" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/23).

Venezia bond issue yields investment of $2M-plus

By Tyler Everett

Serie B side Venezia, which partnered with Tifosy to make official club bonds available earlier this summer, has seen over €2M ($2.1M) invested in the Venezia FC Bond in the first 10 days of the investment period, which will close on July 7. The club is aiming to raise $5.5M during the investment period. Venezia's chair, American businessman Duncan Niederauer, said that the funds will be allocated to renovations to the club's training facility. Niederauer: "Our dream is to see our new training center become a home for the entire Venezia FC family -- with additional training pitches, expanded locker rooms and modern physical therapy capabilities, we will have a training ground that can be shared by our men’s and women’s teams, along with our youth academy teams."

Pre-registrants in the bond issue were able to invest during a priority period that began on June 13, and the opportunity became open to the public on June 20. Investors, who have been required to make a minimum investment of €1,000 ($1,051), have come from 27 different countries. Bond-holders will receive 7.5% interest per year on their stake, while a 15% cash bonus will be paid out if the club returns to Serie A within the term of any given bond. Venezia spent the '21-22 season in Serie A, its first season in the top flight since '01-02, but was relegated to Serie B in May after finishing in last place.

LaLiga side Valencia presents plan for new stadium

LaLiga side Valencia on Thursday presented its €115M ($121M) "Nuevo Mestalla" stadium project for a venue with a maximum capacity of 70,000. Valencia's plan is for the project "to be completed within 20-22 months." The new venue would have a covered photovoltaic roof, in addition to "long Mediterannean balconies inspired by the club's current home, Mestalla Stadium." To complete the new stadium the club plans to spend €115M, in addition to the €172M ($181M) that has already been invested. Valencia hopes to begin the project in October, more than 13 years since the club was forced to "stop work on the project due to a lack of liquidity" (PALCO23, 6/23). Valencia said that the funds it received from CVC, plus the sale of sponsorship assets, "would cover 'practically' 100% of the necessary funding" (EP, 6/23).

BBC expecting 35 million viewers to watch CWG

More than 35 million people are set to watch the BBC’s coverage of the Commonwealth Games, when the event opens in Birmingham on July 28. This year's Games will see 6,500 athletes competing, and the broadcaster plans "over 200 hours of live coverage and 11 live streams via its digital platforms." It comes after the BBC was heavily criticized for its "pitiful" coverage of the Tokyo Games, when it could only offer two live events at one time. The last Commonwealth Games on home soil were in Glasgow in '14 and the BBC anticipates it will "at least" match the figures for that competition, albeit with viewers spread across more digital channels (London DAILY MAIL, 6/22).

German soccer to allow trans players to choose

German soccer is "bucking the recent trend of banning transgender women from women’s competition" by allowing transgender, intersex and non-binary players to "decide whether to play in men’s or women’s teams." The German FA (DFB) passed a regulation for "gender-nonconforming players with the civil status 'diverse' or 'unspecified' on Thursday." The organization added, "It also applies to transgender players who can now switch at a self-determined time or remain initially in the team in which they’d been playing previously. As long as the sporting activity does not affect the health of the person while they are taking medication, the person can take part in the game, which is why the new regulation excludes doping relevance." The rules take effect in the coming season and will be incorporated into the DFB’s game regulations for youth, futsal and amateur soccer (AP, 6/23).

Meanwhile, W Series CEO Catherine Bond Muir said that the "all-female racing championship would welcome transgender drivers" with "open arms." Both swimming and rugby league "effectively banned trans athletes from competing in women’s categories this week," but Muir said that there was "no reason why trans drivers could not compete in the series." There have been "no transgender drivers in the three editions of the competition so far," but Caitlyn Jenner, the trans former Olympic decathlon champion, owns a team in the series (LONDON TIMES, 6/22).

G2 Esports expands senior leadership team

By Tobias Seck

Berlin-based G2 Esports announced today that it strengthened its leadership team. To support its growth strategy through the recruitment of new talent, the organization added new hires Philippe Adam as financial director and Irina Shames as chief revenue officer. Additionally, Alban Dechelotte was promoted to chief operating officer, replacing Peter Mucha, who held the position for the last four years.

Adam will lead G2 Esports’ controlling, finance, HR and legal teams in his new position as financial director and direct financial strategy, planning and analysis. Adam joins the esports organization from New York-based Deva Capital, where he was an investment professional, with previous stations in his career being Oak Hill Capital Partners and Morgan Stanley.

Shames takes responsibility for all aspects of global commercial growth at G2, with a heavy focus on its expansion in North America and the monetization of gaming and esports as entertainment assets in her new role as CRO. Shames joins G2 from network and content company 3Blackdot, where she oversaw revenue and strategy. Throughout her career, Shames worked at several media companies, including Lionsgate, CNN International, and Viacom.

Dechelotte joined G2 about a year ago from Riot Games Europe. Prior to his promotion to COO, Dechelotte served as general manager supporting the organization’s CEO, Carlos Rodriguez. In his new role, Dechelotte will be responsible for leading G2 Esports’ operations as the company prepares for further expansion and growth. Before joining the esports organization, Dechelotte worked at Riot Games’ business development department in Berlin. He also worked at The Coca-Cola Co., Havas Sports & Entertainment France and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Esports roundup: ESL bolsters Finnish CS:GO scene

  • ESL Gaming has a new media partnership with Elisa, making Finland’s leading telecom the exclusive rights holder for the ESL Pro Tour for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in Finnish.
  • RRQ Akira won the first-ever Liga LATAM, a Mobile Legends Bang Bang tournament that determines Latin America’s championship.
  • The Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Southeast Asia Cup 2022 reached a peak concurrent viewership of 2.8 million concurrent viewers across its streaming partners.

Short Takes

Spanish Basketball League (ACB) Real Madrid named car retailer Autohero its principal sponsor, effective July 1. Autohero's logo will appear on the front of Real Madrid's jerseys, and the brand will have a presence at Estadio Wizink Center and in TV advertisements (PALCO23, 6/23).

France's Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) will use Parisian technology and media provider Dalet’s cloud-based media technology to create, distribute, and monetize video highlights for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. See more in SportTechie.

Eight people who took care of the late Diego Maradona "will be tried in Argentina courts for homicide," according to a ruling released on Wednesday following an investigation into his November '20 death due to cardiac arrest (REUTERS, 6/22).

Netherlands will pay its women’s national team the same bonuses as their male counterparts from next month onwards, having been in talks over a deal since '19 (90MIN, 6/21).

EPL side West Ham appointed customer insight provider Mapp as a fan engagement solution. Mapp will assist with the club's ecommerce store (BUSINESS IN THE NEWS, 6/23).

Starting in August, OrangeTV customers in Spain will have access to the five LaLiga matchdays per weekend that belong to DAZN, after the French telecom and DAZN reached an agreement for Orange to distribute DAZN's content, which includes the EPL, F1, MotoGP and EuroLeague (PALCO23, 6/23). Dutch broadcaster Ziggo Sport extended its rights deal for LaLiga through '29 (BROADBAND TV NEWS, 6/23).

What They're Saying

"They’re in a good location, have a good fanbase and history. I’d say the club could be worth £500 million ($614M). But at the same time, people know that last season they just stayed in the division and alongside that, the talk in investor circles is of a club being run badly" -- American businessman and Danish second division side Helsingor Chair Jordan Gardner, on Peter Kenyon leading a U.S. group interested in acquiring Everton (THE ATHLETIC, 6/23).

"It's smarter to stop now than go through all the pain of not being able to do what you could do before" -- Former F1 driver Jackie Stewart, calling for Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton to consider retirement (MARCA, 6/23).

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