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Barcelona sign Sony Music deal, London Stadium landlords losing £20m a year & Women's Super League Games to be streamed for free

16:54 GMT+3 09/08/2019
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This week saw Barcelona signing a deal with Sony Music, financial problems for E20 and free streaming announced for the Women's Super League

Goal rounds up the top business stories of the week from Soccerex, including Barcelona signing a deal with Sony Music which will see Blaugrana players team up with recording artists, the landlords of the London Stadium losing £20m a year and news that every Women's Super League Game will be streamed for free this season...

Barcelona sign Sony Music deal

Barcelona have announced a partnership with Sony Music to create music and sport entertainment experiences for fans.

The agreement will bring together Barcelona's players and big-name Sony Music artists to create audio-visual content for the club’s global fanbase and help position them at the forefront of the sports and entertainment industry.

Activations so far have included Sony Music artists performing during Bar Joan Gamper Trophy game against Arsenal. In addition, as part of the club’s US pre-season tour, artists from the record label, Play-N-Skillz and Pedró Capó, performed at Barca Fest Miami, which attracted more than 8,000 fans.

More projects will be announced in the near feature, which are set to have more artists perform at Barca events, shared content between the club and Sony Music, and access to the entertainment giant’s music catalogue to use across the team’s different channels.

Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona President, said: “We are very proud to be joining forces with Sony Music, one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. With this initial collaboration agreement we intend to improve the fan experience for our supporters through musical content and innovative audiovisual materials.”

Afo Verde, Chairman and Chief executive, Sony Music Latin Iberia, added: “We are very excited and looking forward to our prestigious partnership with the FC Barcelona organization. It gives both parties a unique platform to tell stories by combining music and sports. I’m sure that music and Barca fans will enjoy this amazing collaboration.”

London Stadium landlords losing £20m a year

E20, the owner of the London Stadium, is losing £20 million ($24.3m) a year on the venue.

The latest accounts, which followed a Freedom of Information request from the Press Association (PA), showed £6 million ($7.3m) was spent converting the stadium from a football ground to a multi-use venue and back again over the summer.

The London Stadium primarily serves as the home ground for West Ham, but was converted into a Major League Baseball ballpark to host two regular-season games between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in June, costing £1.9 million ($2.3m) alone.

That amount was £500,000 ($608,000) higher than initially estimated, though E20 told PA that MLB’s hire fee covered the costs.

An E20 spokesperson said: “In addition to the wider economic benefit of bringing MLB to London, I can confirm a profit was generated by the baseball games,” but did not reveal how much profit was made from holding MLB games.

The £6m figure is up from the £4.1 million ($5m) in 2018, when the stadium hosted several high-profile music concerts and three weekends of international athletics. However, it did not reach the £11.3 million ($13.7m) in 2017 when the venue staged the World Athletics and World Para Athletics Championships.

Another major expenditure for E20 was the £4 million ($4.9m) spent on legal fees in a failed attempt to get West Ham to pay more rent.

The top-flight team agreed to pay £2.5 million ($3m) a year for a 99-year lease, significantly less than expected after at least £272 million ($331m) was spent turning the site into a Premier League stadium, for which West Ham contributed £15 million (US$18.2m).

The deal was criticised by pressure group the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who called the deal “ludicrously generous,” while the rent apparently does not even cover the cost of staging matches.

Every Women's Super League game to be streamed for free

The Football Association is launching a new over-the-top (OTT) platform that will provide free live coverage of every Women’s Super League game from the start of the 2019-20 season.

The new streaming service, called The FA Player, will show more than 150 domestic women’s football matches throughout the season, including all top-flight WSL fixtures and one game from each round of the second-tier FA Women’s Championship.

The launch of the new platform will not affect the WSL’s existing domestic rights deals with pay-TV channel BT Sport and public service broadcaster the BBC, which will continue to televise over 30 live games during the 2019-20 season.

An official release said that the move is designed to ‘broaden access’ to women’s soccer ‘beyond traditional channels’ on a single platform for free.

As well as live games, The FA Player, which will go live ahead of the new WSL season, will house selected highlights from matches featuring the England national team, as well as the Women’s FA Cup and the FA Women’s Continental League Cup. There will also be archive footage and regular features on domestic women’s soccer and the Lionesses.

“This announcement is a pivotal and significant step in The FA’s journey to grow the women’s game and attract new audiences,” said Kelly Simmons, the FA’s Director of the Women’s Professional Game.

“We know people want to watch football in different ways, with content that’s quickly and easily accessible. This new live streaming service will give them unique access to over 150 live fixtures in all competitions, all available at the click of a button.

“This will help build on the fantastic coverage BBC and BT Sport give the women’s game on their channels so that fans can enjoy the best of women’s football when and how they wish.”

In addition, the opening weekend of the upcoming WSL campaign will see a number of games take place at men’s teams’ stadiums. Manchester City and rivals Manchester United will kick off the season at the Etihad Stadium on September 7, while Chelsea will host Tottenham at Stamford Bridge a day later.