Thursday 18 February 2021 4:04 pm

Week in Sportbiz: England Netball weighing up approaches from private investors; plus Manchester City's humble new partner club and 'super spikes'

Netball’s prodigious growth has not gone unnoticed by the private investors who have embarked on a trolley dash of sporting properties.

England Netball successfully launched its Covid-adapted 2021 Superleague season last weekend – another feather in the cap of an organisation that has doubled participation in a decade.

The governing has renewed its broadcast deal with Sky on improved terms and sponsors include Vitality and Nike.

Read more: Ollie Phillips: Private equity investment is the impetus rugby needs for short-term survival and long-term prosperity

England Netball chief executive Fran Connolly told City A.M. that it had received offers from private investors but said any partners would need to be the right fit and committed long term.

“Yes, us and a number of the top female sports have been approached and we know that there is interest out there,” she said. 

“We are taking our time to explore that, but at the same time explore other vehicles to move us forward in a different way.

“As a governing body, we’re thinking very carefully about how we want to professionalise the sport and we’re exploring every opportunity on the table right now.”

Read the full interview with England Netball chief executive Fran Connolly here.

City Football Group goes fourth (division)

City Football Group have cast their net far and wide for potential acquisitions and partners, but their latest tie-up might be the most obscure yet.

Manchester City’s owners have teamed up with Vannes OC for what the French fourth tier have called “a technical partnership agreement”.

“This partnership will allow the Vannes Olympique Club to pursue its development through the sharing of experiences, technologies and training of staff and teams,” they added.

It is understood, however, that Vannes will not become part of City Football Group. Rather, City sources describe it as a technical collaboration and extension of the group’s existing relationship with Vannes president Maxime Ray, who is also a shareholder in CFG club Troyes.

City Football Group announced Bolivar as its first official “partner club” last month. Bolivar owner Marcelo Claure said this week that the deal would see his club pay a nominal fee to CFG. 

Spikes are athletics’ latest thorny issue

Little more than a year on from World Athletics declaring Nike’s Vaporfly range of running shoes legal, another storm is brewing.

British runner Elliot Giles’s extraordinary 800m in Poland earlier this week not only obliterated a Seb Coe’s national indoor record, it was the second fastest time in history.

The staggering uptick in performance from Giles, whose best achievement in European bronze, has naturally raised a few questions.

And not least about the 26-year-old’s footwear, given his is the latest in a series of record times set in recent weeks by athletes wearing a new breed of Nike spikes. 

With five months until the delayed Tokyo Olympics, World Athletics face a race of their own to allay fears of unfair advantage.

Rashford in business with Bond

What do Marcus Rashford and Daniel Craig have in common?

No, it’s nothing to do with representing franchises whose glory days look long behind them; the pair are among over 100 celebrities to have invested in US health tech company Therabody.

Rashford’s fellow Premier League stars Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kevin De Bruyne have also chipped in, as has England rugby mainstay Maro Itoje.

Other investors include A-listers Jay-Z, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Kevin Hart and Cindy Crawford as well as US sports stars Kevin Durant, James Harden and Aaron Rodgers. 

Spurs strengthen stateside alliance

Tottenham Hotspur have been making eyes across the Atlantic for some time now.

Chairman Daniel Levy successfully courted the NFL to Spurs’ new stadium, signed England-baiting USWNT star Alex Morgan and broadened the club’s stateside appeal by ushering in the cameras for Amazon Prime Video’s fly-on-the-wall documentary.

The north Londoners’ latest gambit is the hiring of US executive Todd Kline, formerly of the Miami Dolphins NFL franchise, to be their new chief commercial officer. 

Tottenham have hired the man who sold Hard Rock naming rights to the Miami Dolphins' stadium for £180m
Tottenham have hired the man who sold Hard Rock naming rights to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium for £180m (Getty Images)

Kline is credited with landing the Dolphins’ £180m stadium naming rights deal with the Hard Rock chain of hotels and restaurants.

He is tipped to be tasked with finding a sponsor for Tottenham’s swanky home.