American Business and the Premier League
This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
American business interests have had a very forceful (but only subtly apparent) hand in the day-to-day of English football for the past couple decades. Every season, it appeared to be only more and more common for Premiership clubs to build connections with American business, financial institutions, and private investors.
American business has focused its sights on a few clubs specifically. Over the last five years, Sunderland, Liverpool, and Manchester United each witnessed the introduction of an American majority shareholder. However, only a few of Arsenal’s minor stakeholders are from the United States (for now).
Today, some of the Premier League’s chief sponsors are American companies. The ball provider, of course, is Nike, whilst other everyday operations are funded by Wrigley’s, Topps Merlin, and Sporting iD, to name a few.
Slowly, over the last five years, American business has moved its way into English stadiums. Now, in 2010, the time appears perfect to bring those stadiums much closer to home. Last week, officials from the Premier League announced that EA (Electronic Arts) Sports will no longer just be the owner of the League’s games license—instead, they will be the official sports technology sponsor.
For EA, this augmented sponsorship role will provide branding rights to every game or league statistic that is shown on screen. The deal results in an estimated £10-15 million for the Premier League, as well the installation of new cameras for the purpose of collecting previously unattainable statistics for each player, including running distances, leap heights, and the speed of their shots.
On the surface, these statistics may seem only beneficial to the creation and marketability of EA’s football games. That is definitely one positive aspect of the deal for EA, but is most assuredly not the motivating factor: EA wants to collect statistics on every player, every match, every team, and every stadium to make football more appetizing to the American sports fan.
The manner in which American sports are regulated, played, and officiated, as well as the behaviour and demeanour of those who play it, are quantifiably influenced by statistics.
For those American businesses that are attempting to market football back home, it is irrelevant whether the sweeping systemic utilization of statistics is beneficial devoid of its marketability. The American public’s appetite for statistics in sports is insatiable; this unending craving has fostered and encouraged the prevalence with which statistics are used (and broadcast) in baseball, basketball, American football, and now, inevitably, football.
EA will have to wait until the 2011 season to use their new statistics-nabbing cameras, and will also have to wait until 2012 to know whether or not goal line technology will be implemented.
“EA Sports Official Goal Line Camera” anyone?