GAME PROGRESS: FIFA sees sponsorship surge ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup… while Birmingham City’s sale is postponed amid fears the bid is being backed by Russian money
- FIFA has seen an influx of sponsors interested in the 2023 Women’s World Cup
- Birmingham City takeover hit by claims bid is backed by Russian money
- Chelsea’s new majority shareholders have seen investment from Saudi Arabia
- But the Blues did well to hire ‘director of affairs’ Tom Glick on their team
- Click here for all the latest 2022 World Cup news and updates
FIFA has been inundated with sponsorship offers for next year’s Women’s World Cup in the wake of the European Championship after it decided to sell the commercial rights to the tournament for the first time as a standalone event.
For the previous World Cup in the United States in 2019, FIFA did not offer tailor-made packages to sponsors, with all the branding of companies that have long been commercial partners of the Men’s World Cup, such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Visa.
FIFA is convinced that the Women’s World Cup now has sufficient commercial appeal to stand on its own two feet, with the strong expressions of interest shown so far suggesting that they are likely to be successful.
The success of the Women’s European Championship has prompted sponsors to contact FIFA about the World Cup
Russia fears Brum bid
The long-standing Birmingham City takeover is being further delayed amid concerns that the bid by local businessman Paul Richardson and former Barcelona striker Maxi Lopez may be backed by Russian money.
The EFL is investigating the source of the duo’s funding after being tipped off that some of it may have been supplied by Russian business interests in Cyprus.
The Cypriot government has forged close ties with Russia in recent years, earning the island the nickname ‘Moscow on the Mediterranean’.
The EFL could reject the takeover if a Russian link is made.
Richardson and Lopez paid a £1.5m deposit last month to go through with a bid that values Birmingham at £36.5m but must secure additional funding to go through with the deal.
Birmingham City is valued at £36.5million but takeover could be hit by allegations
Saudi link puts new Blues owners in the spotlight
Chelsea’s new majority shareholders, Clearlake Capital, have received billions of pounds in investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, owners of Newcastle United.
Clearlake owns 60 per cent of Chelsea after its £4.25bn acquisition earlier this summer led by LA Dodgers owner Todd Boehly.
Chelsea sources told Sportsmail there was no Saudi involvement in Clearlake’s purchase of the club, allaying concerns over a potential conflict of interest.
However, the disclosure will raise more questions about the source of Clearlake’s funding, as well as highlight a lack of transparency surrounding the extraordinary takeover caused by Roman Abramovich’s sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Clearlake has pledged at least £2.55bn to Chelsea in a takeover concocted by Boehly, who also bought a stake in the club along with his business partner Mark Walter and Swiss entrepreneur Hansjorg Wyss.
The US-based private equity firm manages around £80 billion in assets on behalf of around 300 investors worldwide, including significant investments from PIF, which paid £350 million last year to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashley.
PIF invests in several other private equity firms, as well as in Clearlake.
The Premier League was convinced enough of the source of Clearlake’s funding to quickly approve the deal after the government finally gave the green light in May.
Chelsea went to great lengths to show that no Russian money was involved in the transaction, but did not publicly disclose that Clearlake has Saudi investors.
The Premier League has been criticized for allowing the Saudi takeover of Newcastle despite strong government advice.
Chelsea also received a Saudi bid for the club, but the bid from the Saudi Media Group led by Mohamed Al-Khereiji was not shortlisted by the club.
Chelsea and the Premier League declined to comment.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund Invests in Chelsea’s Shareholders Clearlake Capital
President Glick a good choice
Chelsea’s appointment of Tom Glick as ‘President of Business’ at Stamford Bridge has caused much joy among existing staff, with many of them now calling each other ‘Mr President’.
Despite the cynicism about his job title, recruiting Glick to lead Chelsea’s commercial activities elsewhere in football is regarded as a masterstroke.
He was highly respected during his time as Chief Commercial Officer at Manchester City and credited with transforming the Carolina Panthers’ financial fortunes in the NFL.
Chelsea’s new ‘president of business’ Tom Glick previously worked with Manchester City